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THE SHAPE OF
THINGS TO COME-
VOL. 7 NO. 8
EDITOR IN CHIEF & DESIGN DIRECTOR: BOB GUCCIONE
PRESIDENT; KATHY KEETON
EDITOR' GURNEY WILLIAMS III
GRAPHICS DIRECTOR: FRANK DEViNO
MANAGING EDITOR. PAUL HILTS
Ryszard Horowitz's conceptual
photograph lirst appeared
on the cover ot the prestigious
Photographis, an annual
publication from Switzerland.
Horowitz's exciting images
are sought both by corporations
and by private collectors.
© 1982, by Ryszard Horowitz.
IV . E_;
COMM UN I CATIONS-
Steve Nad Is
and Neal BUmham
Barry N. Malzberg
T m: -raveler
SCENES OF FUTURE PERFECT
Bradford A. Smith
and Richard J. Terrile
•=, have beer- proposed "■■:■
e introduction- cl robots ;nt
kind q1 so! Lit ign is. simply
: - By; Marvin iMjfisky o; : X»
'vThepubiic ■; >;. '■• ; '- ; -
: wants, to hear the latest ,' ; .
thing but has
no conception of what ' ■
■science is and
■ how it got that way.*- .':■//
■io fund the early .rel'iren;
i ■!! ill II ;i 111' . ■■■.' i:: i ■■:>■. ".■ Oihei
jobs. This fs not so hard to do in socials!
eouatnes,. but ins an expensive soUton or
a oar 'la.; si ealerpri.se. especially when is
■ ■■ ■!!
interest And who o there to advocate a
longer view that reflects the-welfare Of
worker;: iol ye' bom? . ■ .
' .!■■■■ i, i.iv .■!.:■.. :.,. ■
should try to discourage people from
■ preparing- ! or professions that are scon to
disappear :n orOn'-ary kmes lias happens
am v, ;,■■■,■; '.„■;,.
siens become unprofitable. Thus, few ■
.,:■■,■■■ ■ ! .■
advance, and as technology accelerates, we
An a>'erriat;ve woe
cor-iiroi si!. research c i 01 i or:
one iaroo decision moht go wrong, as-
when the Soviet eabersho in the Thirties ■
snn Fori, tilowac aoN;- I . ,eoelo
I.. I I'! /.Ml,. I ■■ '.. ■■■:■!. ..:, I
:■'■' ' .. i ■ ■ i . i. ■ ; r i: cie'itit.iC lines, 'he
ensile Soviet i ere i to many'
.'ears -rem in;s mistake.
Another way might be: to ban research
■■ no i ■ 'i ■ ■ ■: , ' ; i: .1,1 i! !■:■'■ ,■
i.r iugl i : . ■
■carries a high price it is Impossible :o
reis! i; an ivi i !■■ i n. ■:■■■■■■■ , from a larger
i.',u. v ■.. And r i! one ■ ■■
sooaid decide iha; arkkolannlelligence • Al)
. I';!!'! U I,;'
at car nations won id agree.
Cone: anything ota'rd researcn on
compmersand AI?Thai is hard o imagine,
shod of "he interventioooi :he kind of
rake us revol i:i' n Min a . . ■ an!
: Herberts D^o'Cnherwise, hive i! or not.
robe: o and Al will eoniinije io develop.. /
Thoo Is no one in cava: .v >c- ! i eitnei
In the long run or the power io on-ojco
such' conclusions. History can be under
nobody's direct control,
helpless, VV hing
seems too massive -and drfmse to'be
coi ry to chance
« movement s coarse by mobilizing.
wnateve: : ;■ a ii rces are a in. ■
on: : ■ ii ■ i ■■■■!■ i art] ew and .'to
■ ! i s ■ i : ■ ■ i ■ ■ . -. its :■■ ■'.,■ along som- l> nasi :gan
c-t time, perhaps "GO or t.000 years!
Workers in science In general and in Al
■ in particular el ton ask themselves about
the consequences of their work. If robotics
and'AI threaten o transform our future;
who Will take respei;siphty 'or -he rjes?
.possible effects of new discoveries 7 Who
canwe trust io make our plan
Riiih! now, there does no! seem to be anyone
. we can depend on..'
industries'? Today mos; of them cannot
ever; pier; more train a few veers ahead.
1 a-i ' I. :i .n \- ■ ■ i : ■■■ ! ■ i ilniy thai
a company that invests ;n latere knowledge
Wilt be. the one to reap its harvest.
. .'i a engine as' A kv rji i ocipk
!■■■ i ... ■!'■ ■,;■:.: I ■! ■■■■■■■;:■■ i . i.
■;■ a ■ ■■'. '..;>" ■ ■■:! ■■,■:■. i:. i< ■..
of their work. The trouble with this is thai
son::, say b
o'P r pepph n their p "i' 1 i rnci uity
can;,o! oe expected lo be moo socially
responsible lhan anyone else. Scientists, as
■ i: no '■ OC' s=!y talon.'.ed
deciding whs: is good -or Oliver people.
vV! a ■ , lei 'I are O' '>■ ii a nU cv-arli g
■■■.■: i ;■ i : '.nm-.U'/ M"
As or democracy the process
of involving greai numbers of people in
■Talking decisions — that works-. for easy
problems. The coal Invention, of the secoi
ballot can help protect the mass of individ-
uals from special i atones; s, wnneu: ih.e
aisai and can benefit
the wnoic la many instances.
Unfortunately oopufar democracy dcesoi .
'.'■'Ii' ' -':■.. .'.1 '!.!!' ■..!:■ .!■■!■!. i
comp-ex ano speeializec ior most voters io
i nders me iopi, any et ed
compensate for ignorance.
.!■,■■ !. !!■■■.■ a ri !■ ■, ■■ i
tists be : leve that ;i tney cculd expiam shear
wo a a
one on >in-o cootie: ■ , omefhiinb
that will concern everyone, why don't
soeinsts.ialk anon: the pertinent issues
ano lei trie public decide'? -A
I'hetrouPe is. tod;
work so we: When I m asked to g've
press conferences or media interviews
about A!, there sometimes seems no place' .
to start In oreei ion:
at all. i| seems best o spend' at ieast half"
the allotted time expialixo the simplest
HI, ..■!'■■ i'l Ii,; !i ■ !■ I . ' a ■■ 'LO.,
waul i'. ii ■.'■ 'I'n ■,!'!■'■. i m ■ . ! .■ :a iO
conception of what science ; s ebon' and'
■ now ;t got that way. iJnaes- itie cifcum;
sianceiy you smipiy car-'t explain the latest
thing. I aftcn lino f aave to say a mtie.abcu 7 .
what Newton and tjarwin diaeaverea
or F'enklln, or Fiend, er A aa faring, the
esteemicd campia i ■■■!.■■ i . ■■ ■ ■:■■
frequently, the '/ignorance gap'' jast seems
impossible to eioss because our popular
culture. is se lar icmovec from what is
r-a ,■ ■; ,c " ■■ ■■■: .!■■!■■ !■ i
Stereotyped phrases often seem to
contain a kernel of truth. Example:
One must eat to live, not live to
eat. Or, We are what we eat. Now, however.
a series of spectacular research findings
may give these particular adages new
meaning, in "Mind Nutrients," on page 36.
freelance writer Daniel Kagan reveals
that some nutrients can regulate the
production of neurotransmitters, the chemi-
cal messengers between nerve cells in
the brain. Since neurotransmitters influence
virtually all physiological and psychological
functions, ordinary lood may one day
help us to enhance learning and memory,
alleviate depression, and even cure some
types of disease. Already, says Kagan,
researchers such as Richard Wurtman, of
MIT have learned that high-carbohydrate
meals (a breakfast of orange juice, jelly, and
toast, for instance) can stimulate the
neurotransmitter serotonin, which has been
linked to depression. And by manipulating
the amino acid choline, found in many
protein foods, it may be possible to slow or
stop ihe mental deterioration that charac-
terizes Alzheimer's disease.
Just as certain simple chemicals are the
basis of human health and emotions,
subatomic particles are ihe basic building
blocks of all matter in the universe. Since
the late Fifties, myriad particles have been
discovered, and in the forefront of that
effort slands'physicist Murray Gell-Mann,
Mr. Subatomic Particle himself. To a great
extent, colleagues say, this California
institute of Technology scientist defined the
subatomic world as we know it today.
In this month's Interview, on page 54,
writer Ron Schultz asks Gell-Mann to take
us into the deepest realms of cosmology,
where he is currently studying the mind-
boggling theory of supergravity. a daring
attempt 10 unify (our disparate forces
that may have existed as just one force
when the universe was formed. Supergravfty
and its less well-known offspring, super-
string theory, may provide a possibte
answer to the search for symmetry among
the forces. Physicists may yet be rewarded
with their most grandiose dream; atheory
that explains the oddities of the mysterious
Schultz, who has published articles on
topics as varied as outer space, art, and
baseball, interviewed Gell-Mann "because
I wanted to talk to the man who had
discovered the fundamental building blocks
of matter — quarks — and reinforce my
philosophy on the nature of the universe. It
was shortly after the interview began that
Gell-Mann told me that everything I believed
was wrong." Schultz is currently writing a
book on high-pressure decision making, to
be printed by John Muir Publications Inc.,
of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
While experimental physicists like Gell-
Mann peer into the subatomic world, Omni
readers have been stealing a glimpse of
the future. Last October, in our sixth-
anniversary issue on Love. Work, and Play
in the Twenty-first Century, we asked
readers to participate in a Delphic poll,
designed to extract their views on the world
to come. Not long after, we sent writer
Owen Davies to Ihe experts, those in a
position to know what might reasonably
occur. Davies then went on to compare
these expert answers with yours. To see
how you rate against specialists on issues
ranging from longevity (When will the
average human-life expectancy top 100
years?) to space (When will tourists vacation
on the space shuttle?), turn to "Scenes of
Future Perfect" (page 76). Says Davies,
"The big surprise was not that Omni readers
expect a future of technological marvels
reminiscent ol the 1939 World's Fair but that
the experts, the scientists who are now
building the future, gave even more daring
forecasts than our readers did."
Science-fiction writers also offer daring
visions of the future, in the gentle and ironic
story "0 Homo, Femina, Tempora"
(page 82), Kate Wilhelm portrays an absent-
minded professor so engrossed in his
scientific theory lhaf he misses what's going
on around him. Wilhelm is the winner of
the Hugo and Nebula awards. Her latest
book, Welcome Chaos, was published this
spring by Berkley Books.
In Dreams Unwind, on page 62, Karl
Hansen explores the ominous world of mind
control, vividly describing decadence,
betrayal, and love among a genetically
engineered species. And "Reason Seven"
(page 46). by Barry N. Malzberg, is a
chilling story about a man caught between
love and duty in an Orwellian-type
universe. Malzberg is a well-known science-
fiction critic. DO
Aye for Art
The quality and diversity of your magazine
amazes me! You have the perfect biend
of science, art, fiction, and humor. When the
new issue arrives every month, I am
always impressed with the cartoons, inter-
esting articles, and tremendous artwork
throughout. Even your ads are beautiful.
I especially want to thank you for
publishing artists' work. Few major
magazines recognize the importance of art
in society. February's issue featured
computer graoh cs ["Digital Dreams"],
which are fascinating. The November 1984
issue spotlighted Doug Webb's excellent
paintings in "Dream Art." And Art Cumings's
"The Artist" is a nice touch. Your illustrators
are the best. Keep up the good work.
As the inventor of !he penis-stiffening device
mentioned in "Laurels (and Hardys)"
January 1985], I find your ridicule inaccurate
and in bad taste. Your sarcasm mocks
the serious, worldwide problem of
impotence and premature ejaculation.
My patent is a breakthrough that could
bring ]oy and happiness to many sufferers of
sexual complications due to high blood
pressure, diabetes, and psychological
problems. And let's not forget the millions
of women for whom this penis-stiffening
device could mean fulfillment.
Thank you for publishing such an outstand-
ing magazine. As usual, while reading
Omni I was informed and amused. I was,
however, disturbed by Eric Mishara's article
"Nuclear-Winter Update" [Continuum,
January 1985]. How any intelligent individual
can doubt the possibility of nuclear winter
seems absolutely incomprehensible. to
me. That the major powers have thousands
of warheads ihat could undoubtedly
produce enough smoke and dust lo cover
the earth may seem too fantastic to believe.
Suppose several hundred volcanoes
erupted within a period of about 60 minutes.
The resulting smoke, ash, and dust also
seem unimaginable. No one wants to think
about this comparison or consider what
thousands of nuclear cetcna'ions would do
to this planet. That would just lead to ulcers
and depression Have a nice day
We at the Minnesota Society for Space
Development, in the interest of furthering
science, have tested the triboluminescent
properties of Life Savers, as described
in 'A Great Mouth Trick (Sort of)," by Nick
Engler [Continuum. February 1985], We
crunched the following flavors: cherry,
butter rum, tropical fruit, banana, cinnamon,
Peppomint. and Wintogreen. Peppomint
and Wintogreen gave off brilliant flashes;
cinnamon gave but a small spark. The rest
of the flavors left us in the dark. To prove
that the triboluminescent effect is not limited
to one brand, we tested Certs wintergreen,
which also gave us a satisfying glow.
We believe the results of this research
are far-reaching. All ot the flavors that
sparked were white. There must be a
powerful energy source hidden in each
Life Saver (and Certs). The white pieces
allow that energy to be released easily.
I believe that we now have in our pockets
the portable energy source of the future. You
bet your Life Savers!
Millions of Moslems
In his article "Islamic Prayer Computer"
[Continuum, January 1985], George Nobbe
states that there are about 80 million
Moslems. According to the Los Angeles
Consulate of the Royal Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia, the figure is closer to 800 million.
Where Credit Is Due
The picture of a computer screen impaled
on a knife, reproduced in Omni's Artificial
Intelligence column for November 1984, was
developed by On-Line Software Interna-
tional, Inc., of Fort Lee. New Jersey.DO
Omni welcomes speculation, theories,
commentary, dissent, and questions from
readers in this open forum. We Invite you
to use this column to voice your hopes
about the future and to contribute to the
kind of informal dialogue that provokes
thought and generates breakthroughs.
Please note that we cannot return submis-
sions and that the opinions expressed here
are not necessarily those of the magazine.
Look—Up in the Sky
My hearties! congraiu atie'is to Pamela
Weintraub tor her excellent interview with
urology's elder statesman, J. Allen Hynek
[February 1985]. Never before has a mass-
media publication synopsized the events,
participants, theories, and opinions associ-
ated with this controversial subject so
clearly and objectively. Weintraub, unlike
many olher journalists, enviously did her
homework thoroughly before engaging
Hynek in the interview. More important,
Weintraub was lair. No snide remarks and
no adversarial questions. Quite refreshing.
Shame on you for pitting two experts in
diverse areas of ufology against each
other. Hynek's expertise in popularizing the
UFO controversy's scientific aspects
certainly has its place in ihe overall resolution
of the matter. So, loo, does my expertise
in documenting, analyzing, and articulating
Ihe sociopolitical aspects — including the
general issue of official UFO secrecy
and the particular issue of so-called crash-
landed and government-retrieved "saucer"
occupants: But by inviting Hynek to assess
my judgment in pursuing the various
crashed-saucer accounts, Omni is merely
exploiting the personally conliicfs that
already cloud this controversial field. Don't
you Ihink your readers deserve more?
Director, Washington, DC, office .
Cilizens Against UFO Secrecy
The interview with J. Allen Hynek was a
breath of fresh air from one of the world's
foremost experts on UFOs. Hynek seems
to vacillate, however, n his opinion regarding
UFOs' existence and capabilities.
Case in point; While discussing the
classic study on Betty and Barney Hill, he
states that if is a physical impossibility
for aliens to travel Ihe equivalent of "one
hundred sixiy miles of playing cards" (each
card representing the distance between
the earth and Ihe moon). At the same time,
he proposes that an advanced civilization
might have the ability to project a thought
form that can produce a three-dimensional
image on Earth. Do we simply discard
one fantastic theory to accept another?
In an essay on language published in
1946. George Orwell defined the word
phenomenon as one of those pretentious
words "used to dress up simple statements
and give an air of scientific impartiality to
This explains why the bloated expression
UFO phenomenon is so popular with flying-
saucer advocates like J. Allen Hynek.
Such an expression overshadows the simple
fact that nine out of ten UFO reports involve
mistakes or hoaxes and that the few
remaining reports have little in common
except ihe quality ol being "unsolved." So
what? Many robberies and murders also
remain unsolved, but only a primitive mind
would ascribe all such crimes to a single,
mysterious "lawbreaker phenomenon." UFO
advocates do not realize thai UFO sight-
ings can be solved only as unrelated events,
not as part of a larger "phenomenon."
Hynek and a host of others are under the
impression that given our current technology,
it is unlikely, if not impossible, to traverse
the vast distances between the stars.
If a supercivilization does exist our
unshakable foundation of physics might
seem archaic to its members. Our under-
standing of physics could be completely
correct but hopelessly incomplete.
What does it portend that these aliens
have not contacted governments on Earth?
It probably means they're not interested.
What makes us think that television, lasers,
and nuclear weapons make us number
one on the contact hit parade?
I must remark on J. Allen Hynek's statements
about my hypothesis that UFO abductees
are reliving their birth trauma.
Perhaps being an English teacher, I have
a fatal flaw: a desire for consistency in
essays and profession of views. Some
quotes from Hynek's interview will illustrate
my point. "I was a thorough skeptic," "It
must be nonsense, therefore it is nonsense."
"Ridicule is not part of the scientific
method," "In science you do not discard
data just because you don't like them." "This
is just speculation of the wildest sort." "I
don't think babies . . . would remember that
sort oi stuff."
' Hynek has been repeating himself for
nearly a decade, and without some new bit
of scientific infusion, his newfound phoenix
will remain earthbound.
Garden Grove, CADO
SEX AND MORALI?
■ By Carol Johmann
□ o you think a man should steal an
expensive drug to safe his dying
wile if he is too poor So pay for it?
Take a moment to ponder Ihe problem.
How you respond, says Harvard psycholo-
gist Carol Gilligan, may have a lot to do
with your Sex.
Like other researchers interested in
studying the moral development of human
beings, Gilligan asked her subjects to
respond to hypothetical moral dilemmas
like ihe one above. She also encouraged her
subjects to speak freely about the moral
conflicts in their own lives. But unlike Other
researchers, including Harvard colleague
Lawrence Kohlberg, who pioneered the
field and formulated the above dilemma,
Gilligan included women in her study.
In fact, her work, presented in her book In
a Different Voice, is the first to focus on
women's moral decision making. Previous
studies had either dismissed women as
morally inferior beings or dropped them
when their answers didn't fit the data
obtained from males.
What Gilligan iound is that women difier
from- men in the way they approach mora!
decisions. Gilhgar explans "Women believe
morality is connected to responsibility in
relationships, and they always assume
a connection between self and others. Men
tend to look at moral issues in terms of
the rights of individuals to noninterference."
In other words, when faced with a moral
conflict, men focus on a set of abstract
principles, whereas women tend to weigh
the impact a- decision would have on the
people involved. The woman's approach,
argues Gilligan, is based on her awareness
of the needs and concerns of others, an
outgrowth of her nurturing capacity.
According to Gilligan, it is important for a
woman to "pay attention to everything,
to see and to know as much as She can
about herself and others and the situation
so she can try to anticipate the conse-
quences and act in a way that is least likely
to cause suffering and hurt."
This gender gap in moral decision making
is strikingly illustrated by the responses of
young children to Kohlberg's drug dilemma.
Gilligan found that, in general, boys quickly
decided that the man should steal the
drug. Using a '-athlke p'ocass, the boys
reasoned that human life has a higher
value than property; so they chose life. In
contrast, girls tended to see the dilemma in
terms of complex reia tor-ships and conse-
quences. They worried about whether
the man would be caught and how that
would affect his wife. They suggested
asking the pharmacist to donate the drug
and wondered whether Ihe husband could
borrow the money he needed.
In the past, the girls' approach would
have been d sm ssed as evasive and
wishy-washy. To Gilligan, however, it
demonstrates a concern for finding solutions
thai are mutually beneficial and suggests
a well-developed and mature moral under-
standing. Gilligan 's work is important not
so much because t shews that women's
decision:; are mora! y de'ensible but
because it provides a framework for under-
standing other observed differences
between the sexes.
"Gilligan makes me wonder about
communicalion in personal relationships,"
says Dr. Julia Wood, associate professor
of speech communications at the University
of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill. "Often
men and women seem to be talking past
each other." She cites the common occur-
rence of a couple who has just decided
to purchase a particular item, a new car, for
example. For the man, once the decision
has been made, it is final. There is no need
to discuss ii further. The woman, on the
other hand, may still want to discuss the
decision's ramifications: is ii really what they
need? Will it be comfortable for every
member of the family? This desire, says
Wood, is rooted in the woman's sense
of connections and her need to deal with
all aspects of a situation.
Marriage counselors frequently observe
such differences between men and women
in their need to talk. Women tend to talk
their feelings through, examining them at
length from every angle. Men seem curt by
comparison. The resuli is not only poor
communication but bad feelings. In these
kinds of conversations, Wood concludes,
"the men get irustraied and fed up, while the
women feel the men are luning out and
closing down communication."
Not all men, of course, are insensitive,
nor are all women open and caring. "I have
difficulty believing that the capacity for
these feelings is exclusively genetically
prewired and sexually determined," says
Wood. "More likely, it is a matter of sociali-
zation." If so, then a keen awareness of
the differences in the psyches of men and
women could bring about better communi-
calion, more understanding, and some
major social changes.
One area already changing as more and
more women enter management positions
is the American corporation. The Gilligan
woman carries her approach to moral
decision making into the business world.
When confronted with a conflict on the job,
she again is concerned about ihe people
involved. Although she may employ the
same rules and policies and make Ihe same'
decision as her male colleagues, she is
more likely to agonize over potentially
hurtful consequences. This sense of caring
about colleagues and employees extends
into everyday cor-tac:s. Studies have shown
that female administrators and executives
tend to be more sensitive and responsive to
INFOCOM OPENS THE DOOR
TO YOUR INI A<
I Suddenly, you awake
inside a story! You've
just stepped into
fiction. The instant you loaded
that disk into your computer,
you became the hero of a tale
jam-packed with startling plot
twists, unique c haracters and
You see each
ing in your mind's eye. You
choose what to do about it. '
What happens next happens
because of what you
decided to do.
You're on your way to more
challenge than most peo-l
pie ever face. That's not
just our opinion-it's the
testimony of our custom-!
ers. They tell us their pulse rates
skyrocket and their palms sweat
as they strive to solve our
puzzles. And even when they
pause to attend to their every-
day lives, their minds continue to
churn away at what the next step
should be, where the ultimate
Find out what it's like
to get inside a story. Step into
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INTERACTIVE FICTION SOFTWARE
Infocom's inlenulive fiction is available for a
v. ids vai:<?iy i>i poi--;i:).ih-;npiKers.
■By Charles Piatt
In trying to visualize a world of the future,
any serious science-fiction writer runs
up against the language problem, It's
possible to foresee future technology, future
social structure — even tuture politics —
by extrapolating from current trends.
Language, however, is another matter: Not
only is it totally unpredictable, but it's also
a part of the fabric of the story itself. Too little
future language and the work won't seem
authentic; too much and it becomes
incomprehensible to the average reader.
Most writers avoid this problem by ignor-
ing it. They compile meticulously detailed
future worlds — full of the fantastic —
inhabited by people talking like everyday,
twentieth-century Americans. For example,
Isaac Asimov's immensely successful
Foundation series spans hundreds of
centuries and thousands of light-years of
the galaxy but avoids introducing a single
word of a future dialect.
Some science-fiction writers make a
token gesture toward linguistic realism by
inserting a few weird words here and
there — choosing strange names for places
and "characters, for example. This doesn't
reallydeal with the language problem,
but at least it gives the writing an exotic
flavor that helps to distinguish this future
world from today's.
Very few authors develop their own
languages. Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork
Orange, in which teenage gangs speak
Nadsat, a quixotic mix of Russian and
English, is perhaps the most famous
example. Some of this invented slang (such
as horrorshow, derived from the Russian
khorosho, meaning "good") even spilled over
into real life when the movie version of the
book was released.
To make his future argot comprehensible,
Burgess interspersed the slang with
everyday English. The context implies the
meaning. Sentences like "There were
three devotchkas sitting at the counter all
together, but there were four of us malchicks"
allow a reader to pick up Nadsat
in the same way that a visitor to France
could learn "French — merely by being.
exposed to the language.
In Riddtey Walker, Russell Hoban dealt
differently with the language problem:
He invented words that looked strange but
sounded like English when read aloud,
Hoban wrote his grim vision of a devolved,
illiterate, postapocalyptic Britain in the
style of a wandering storyteller, using such
semi-sentences as, "I never knowit any 1
ben dog kilt only a kid it wer Follery Digman
he got dog ei years back. ... He staggelt
behyni." Many readers complained that
this was hard to follow, even if you were
familiar with the western England dialect
that Hoban used as his model. Yet Riddley
Walker was a favorite of the critics: It won
the National Book Award.
A book written hundreds of years from
now might seem incomprehensible to
us, much as some publications tram our
time would baffle people of the past.
Consider a citizen from a century ago trying
to make sense of. say, TV Guide. It's clear
enough that the magazine is about actors
and entertainment, but it never actually
explains its own subject matter—never tells
us what television fs— because it assumes
everyone already knows.
A science -fiction writer faces a similar
dilemma. He doesn't want to bore the
reader with long lectures explaining his
invented future, but at the same time he
wonders whether the assumptions will
make sense if they are presented as is,
Ideally, the writer concocts scenes that
demonstrate how everything works, without
digressing into explanations. The late
C. M. Kornbluth was an expert at this; his
story "The Marching Morons" (reprinted in
abridged form in the October 1980 issue
of Omni) uses future language to describe
quickly and graphically the two cultures
that have arisen. On one hand, there's the
degenerate proletariat: "Wassamatta
bumpinninna people likeya owna sidewalk
gotta miner slamya inna mushya bassar!"
On the other, the intellectual elite: "I've dee-
probed etfind quasichance ex him Poprob-
Alfred Bester, like Kornbluth, first made
his reputation in the early Fifties with short
stories that created whole future worlds. He
did so using a minimum of phrases and
snatches of dialogue. In addition, Bester
played with the language of style: "Fondly
Fahrenheit," for instance, dramatizes the
hero's identity crisis by narrating it half from
his point of view and half in the third
person, so that he sometimes turns jnto /
partway through a sentence. Bester is also
well known for experimenting with the
look of language on the printed page, using
typographic patterns to depict telepathic
.communication in one book, scrambled
sensory input in another. His Golem 100 took
this technique to its logical conclusion,
merging pictures and even sheet music with
William Gibson, whose short stories have
appeared frequently in Omni, has been
called the Bester of the Eighties, Gibson
used fragments of future talk.to add
authenticity to his groundbreaking first
novel, Neuromancer. This book depicts the
East Coast of America as a seething urban
sprawl in which ghetto poverty flourishes
■ side by side wi:h scanisticated science.
A strong Japanese influence is evident
in Gibson's creative blend of real and
imaginary consumer-goods brand names:
Kirin, Hosaka, Yeheyuan.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect
CONTINUED ON PAGE 75
^REAK DANCING IN THE PLEIADES
By Steve Nadis and Neal Burnham
In their mosl self-confident moments,
scientists propose laws that specify how
all objects — from the tiniest neutrino to
the largest galaxy — ought to conduct
themselves. They have told us, for example,
how the average star should perform.
It came as quite a shock, then, when
astronomers recently discovered that
a group of stars in the cluster Pleiades, lo
the right of Orion's belt, is spinning madly in
an intergalactic version of break dancing.
The discovery will require astronomers
lo revise what they know of stellar evolution.
What was lound was a group of 18 so-
called low-mass stars relating much faster
than slandard models would have
predicted. The discovery— by John Stauffer,
Lee Hartmann, David Soderblom, and
Neal Burnham, at Ihe Harvard-Smithsonian
Center for Astrophysics, in Cambridge,
Massachusetts — was made largely by
chance. It all started when a pair of European
astronomers, Floor van Leeuwen and Peter
Alphenaar, reported '.ha: the light given
off by some of the stars in the Pleiades
cluster varied over time. In a little-noticed
article, they suggested that these stars
might be fast rotators and the variations in
light came from dark spots on them.
But the most remarkable thing about Van
Leeuwen and Alphenaar's observations
was nol ihat there was this variability but that
the stars were rotating so quickly, making
more than one revolution per day. In fact, Ihe
fastest of the Pleiades stars, they said,
spins around once every six hours.
By comparison, the sun takes 25 days to
complete one rotation.
Harvard's John Stauffer was initially
skeptical about Ihe new findings. He had
been studying the Pleiades for years and
had known about the variations. "But the
factthat the periods [of rotation] were
so short was unprecedented for stars [of
this type]," he says. "It was unlike anything
I'd ever seen before." Stauffer was inter-
ested enough lo think the matter was worth
investigating. So in 1982, he headed out
to the Kitt Peak and Mount Hopkins
telescopes, in Arizona. "I was able to
confirm wilhin the first hour of observation
that some of the stars were fast rotators,"
he recalls. Now he had io explain why.
Back in Cambridge. Sta.ner pined forces
'lergalactic comp&riior. ;,-,■■ o;oak csr,ce:i: unci Uqu<c ska!ets.
with his colleagues and came up with a
theory quite different from that of the
European astronomers. The Harvard-
Smithsonian team believed that what existed
in the Pleiades was a group of stars that
had just come out of a long period of
contraction from their initial state as clouds
of gas and dust. The stars were entering
a more mature stage of stellar evolution,
known as the main sequence, the Americans
suggested. This is a relatively stable
period, lasting throughout most of a star's
lifetime. More than 90 percent of all the
stars are "on the main sequence."
As the gas and dust contracted in a
prelude to the main sequence, the result
was similar to the speeding-up effect
that figure skates experience as they bring
their feet together and draw their arms
closer to their bodies. Break dancers also
use this principle. When spinning on their
backs, they curl into a tight ball to accelerate,
as do stars, says Stauffer. "Stars would
arrive at the main-sequence stage as rapid
rotators because of the ice-skater effect,"
he says. This is known as the spin-up
phase. When stars reach their peak rotational
speeds, they start throwing off gases,
and if the gases arc- ejected ■■vi'h sufficient
velocity, the star begins losing momentum
and starts io decelerate. "As soon as
they get there, they start to slow down, or
spin down, as it's called," Stauffer explains.
"Because high-mass stars get to the
main sequence first, they should be the ones
to slow down first," he continues. This has
been the case in the Pleiades. The heavier G
stars (as high-mass stars are classified)
observed in the cluster take only 30 million
years to finish their contractions, and the
ighter K stars take 70 million years.
The idea that a low-mass star could
rolate rapidly and later slow down had been
suggested by others, but it was only a
theory. Until Stauffer and his colleagues
made their observations, no direct evidence
had been lound.
One of the great ironies of all of this,
Stauffer points out, is that the evidence for
this rotation has been available on photo-
graphic plates taken 15 to 20 years ago. "It
was there for discovery, it anyone had
been looking for it," he says. DO
Problem: You've spent a long, hard day in Ihe lunar mine
shafts, digging oul ores to be sent down to Earth, and
now you'd like to relax, have a lew beers ai the Saloon
of the Moon, maybe go bowling at Lunar Lanes. But
you're out of cash, and these things cost plenty.up here in crater-
land. So what do you do? Why, you go to the" bank, of course. To
the lunar branch of Lamar Savings and Loan, to be exact.
The Lamar Savings and Loan Associaiion — home office in Aus-
tin, Texas — wants to be the moon's first bank. Originally dreamed
up as a promotional gimmick by senior vice president Laurie Pax-
son, the "Lamar Lunar" idea is now a serious business proposition.
"It started out a year and a half ago as part of an ad campaign —
going into the future, using space as our corporate image," Paxson
says. "But the more we looked into it, the more we realized that
this was just a good business opportunity. Now it's a regular part
of our long-term planning." It may be hard to picture moon people
opening up checking accounts or filling out deposit slips in the
wastes of the lunar highlands, but there are banks aboard cruise
ships and even one in Antarctica. Why not on Earth's only natural
satellite? "When there actually is a lunar-surface colony," Paxson
says, "there will be a need for banking transactions of one sort or
another. People aren't going to slop doing business with one an-
other just because they're on the moon."
To serve their moonside customers, Lamar will set up a branch
office in the lunar colony that NASA plans to establish — between
2000 and 2010— at Cayley Crater, near the site of the Apollo 16
landing. At first the bank will be staffed by one full-time supervisor-
teller, with additional employees to be hired as needed: Given the
rush of applicants for NASA's astronaut slots, Lamar officials ex-
pect no problems in finding qualified personnel for moon duty.
There are a few obstacles, of course. In Texas, plans for any
new banking office must be approved by the state savings and
loan commissioner, and Lamar has filed the required "application
for branch office" forms-. The completed document is surreal, with
such entries as "Community to be served by this branch office
contains approximately: 14.8 million square miles," and "Popula-
tion of the community at the time of the last census was: 2."
Despite these otherworldly facts and figures, Texas savings-
and-loan. commissioner Linton Bowman has managed to keep his
feet on the ground. "We don't consider this to be a publicity stunt,"
he says, "I think they're serious, and it will be treated as a serious
application. We've asked the attorney general to render an opin-
ion, and we're probably going to have hearings on it. I don't want
to prejudge it now by saying I will or won't approve it."
To run their application through the legal gauntlet, Lamar exec-
utives have retained the Houston space-law firm of Dula, Shields
& Egbert. Lawyer Art Dula approaches his task with a messianic
fervor. "What we're talking about is utterly feasible, and I do not
anticipate any difficulty at all in proving that we will have colonies
on the moon — men, women, children, people born there, people
dying there," says Dula. 'As to whether any bureaucrat will have
nerve enough to say, 'Yes, a Texas savings-and-loan branch should
be established on the moon,' I don't know."
For Dula, Lamar Lunar is more than just another legal brief. It's
part of man's first steps off the planet. "You're not going to get
human migration into space on any large scale without commerce
getting out there first. We want to foster the businesses that will
take a place that's barren, worthless, and empty and transform it
into downtown Dallas."
If the state of Texas decides that it should be first on the moon,
then it may one day be raking in tax dollars from the heavens. The
corporations that do business on the lunar surface or in nearby
space are going to be banking at close-in Cayley Crater and not
at faraway places like New York or Paris. And you can bet that the
first moon millionaire isn't going to salt away his money in as remote
a place as a Swiss bank.
Currently the bank is looking for before-tax profits of some
$270,000 in Ihe moon branch's third year of operation. The millions
aren't rolling in yet, but Lamar Lunar already has its first depositor.
"I've been a space activist for most of my life." says Ben Bova,
president of the National Space Institute, "and when I heard that
Lamar Savings and Loan was opening a branch on the moon, it
was a put-up-or-shut-up situation. So I put my money where my
mouth is and opened an account with one thousand dollars. After
all, I'm going to need walking-around money when I get up there."
Lamar's Laurie Paxson is determined to give Bova and other
moon investors their chance. "We anticipate our application being
approved," she says. "Whether we get approval on the state level
or have to go all the way through the federal government, we're
going to get it. We are going to do this."— EDWARD REGIS, JR.
Astronauts and others living in space wilt need special medical
treatment. NASA is working on emergency care in zero gravity.
TRAUMA IN ORBIT
An accidental explosion on
board Ihe space station
USA critically injures an as-
tronaut. Tiny sensors, quickly
placed against the injured
astronaut's skin, precisely
monitor his condition so that
a mini-medical computer
can rapidly make a diagnosis
and prescribe the treatment
that saves the astronaut's life.
This imaginary scene is
likely to actually happen
in the 1990s, with the advent
of manned NASA space
stations and the movement of
growing numbers ol people
into space. In fact, NASA
has begun to create the
technology for medical treat-
ment, and even surgery, in
the zero gravity of space.
'The space stations will be
accessible only by space
shuttle," surgeon and NASA
consultant Dr. John Siegel
says, "and it takes fourteen to
twenty-one days to ready
a shuttle for flight. So without
the capability to care for
the seriously sick and injured
while they're in space," he
says, "you're condemning
these people to death."
Dr. Siegel is clinical director
center at the University of
Maryland, in Baltimore. That
center has been awarded
a NASA contract to develop
a minicomputer and sensors,
like those just described,
which will enable the astro-
naut-physicians of tomorrow
to cope with a wide variety
of medical problems.
NASA, Dr. Siegel says, is
also looking into zero-gravity
surgery techniques (for
instance, the patient might
be operated on through
a plastic barrier to keep his
blood from floating away), as
well as the development of
a special pump-driven I.V.
bottle (because those used
on Earth won't drip in zero
gravity). — Eric fvlishara
"Anybody, almost, can make
a beginning: The difficulty
is to make an end — to do
what cannot be bettered. "
— George Bernard Shaw I
Intrigued by the relationship
between creativity and
madness, a professor of psy-
chiatry al UCLA spent a
year studying the behavior of
47 British painters, novelists,
playwrights, poets, and
sculptors and discovered
what a lot of us have long
suspected: A creative person
is 35 times more likely to
need treatment for a severe
mood disorder than the
'People have noticed for a
long time that there is a
relationship between creativ-
ity and madness." says Dr.
Kay Jamison, whose study
was conducted at Oxford
University from 1982 to 1983.
"There are a disproportionate
number of artists who are
literally insane or at least
pushing the edge. Serious
depression and manic-
depressive illness appear in
about six percent ol the
general public, but more than
half the people in Ihe study
had received treatment
for mania or depression."
Dr. Jamison's project origi-
nally was to locus on the
episodic work spurts and
seasonal patterns of creativity
among those who make a
living "waiting for Ihe Muses."
As her work progressed,
she noted mood swings that
were often accompanied
by a decreased need for
sleep, heightened energy,
grandiosity, euphoria, and
As a group, poets suffered
the most severe forms of
disturbance. Almost 20 per-
cent of the 18 poets studied
suffered at least one manic- I
depressive episode serious
enough to have required
hospitalization, and more than
half said they had undergone
psychotherapy or taken
medication for their hypo-
mania or depression at least
once. Eight of the 16 play-
wrights had- been in therapy
at some point, and more
than a fourth had used anti-
depressant drugs for their
mood disorders. The figures
were equally unsettling for
ihe painters, novelists, and
sculptors who participated in
Dr. Jamison's findings wilt
be published later this year by
Ihe Oxford University Press
in a book entitled Manic
Depressive Illness. She says,
"I have no reason to believe
that the British are different
from Americans in the crea-
tive arts." That's a theory
she'll have a chance to prove
because she plans a similar
study in Los Angeles, which
she describes as tempting
"because Los Angeles
is a whole mountain of crea-
tivity." — George Nobbe
"The pistol of my talent I fired
straight at my own heart. "
— Veronica Geng
Van Gogh: His mood swings
to many artists.
A new gluelike material made from blood components c.
surgeons put people bach together without using suture
Surgeons in this country
will be gluing people back
together like living dolls,
if tests of a substance being
used in Vienna prove out.
The naturally derived "fibrin
sealant" joins animal tissues
and promotes healing, avoid-
ing the bleeding, pain, and
tearing of needles and
Doctors who have tried the
glue on animals are "thrilled."
says Mary Ellen Luczun,
the nurse in charge of Ihe
clinical testing at Immuno-US,
the manufacturer. The fibrin
sealant is applied in droplets
or sprayed on the areas to
be joined and forms a white,
rubbery mass that holds
the two sides together.
The glue contains fibrino-
gen, the substance in human
blood that causes clotting,
and it works by simulating a
normal clot. Because it
sets faster an'd forms a
stronger adhesive, however,
it more effectively controls
bleeding. The white clot,
really a blood clot with the
red cells missing, eventually
dissolves and is absorbed
by the body just like an
"It's going lo be a great
thing," Luczun says. 'As
a nurse, I've seen surgeons
stuck in the operating room
for hours on end trying to
control bleeding." The stuff
will be especially helpful
in rejoining tissue in which
the blood vessels are too tiny
to suture. Livers or spleens
that have been ruptured
in accidents, for instance,
can't always be sewn to- .
gether and often have to be
removed. And a Viennese
surgeon used the glue to re-
pair a smashed kneecap-
One eye surgeon here who
has tried the glue on animals
is greatly impressed. D. -
Jackson Coleman, of Cornell
Medical Center, is "very
excited by its potential to seal
large holes in the retina."
The glue, he expects, will fill
such holes "like a rubber
plug in an automobile tire."
—Anthony Livers Idge
Marine basic training,
everyone knows, is tough on
recruits. What most people
don't appreciate is that
it's pure hell for the drill in-
Think about it: A drill
sergeant works rigidly
scheduled 11 -week shifts,
getiing not more than five or
six hours of sleep a night
with only five days off. During
that time, he has to be consist-
ently "firm but fair" with
anywhere from 50 to 90 sev-
enteen- and eighteen-year-
old boys, many of whom
arrive thinking they're pretty
hot stuff and then discover
they can't make it through the
obstacle course. Then, two
weeks after one group is
graduated, another fresh
batch of teens arrives.
Raymond W. Novaco, of
the University of California at
Irvine, and Irwin G, Sarason.
of the University of Washing-
ton, followed five classes
of drill instructors for two
years, periodically testing
Ihem for signs of stress,
including elevated blood
pressure and heart rate,
anxiety, anger, and low toler-
ance for frustration. They
found that the drill instructor's
job is indeed an exception-
ally stressful one. They also
found thai the drill instructors
who exhibited the strongest
stress reaclions were the
Performance rates among
their recruits were towest,
and attrition rates were
highest. The upshot: The two
psychologists developed a
program to teach marine drill
sergeanfs seven key stress-
The core of the program,
now being implemented
in drill-instructor schools in
San Diego and Parris Island,
South Carolina, consists of
six videotapes dealing with
various aspects of stress
in the life of a drill sergeant:
frustration, anger, impa-
tience, anxiety, family prob-
lems, and recruit evaluation.
Each of these themes is
illustrated by a specific train-
Frustration, for example, is
shown in the context of
physical training. Among the
problems addressed is the
queslion: "How does the drill
instructor respond to the
recruit who can't get over the
wall?" Calmly and wisely,
the tape suggests. It's beiter
for everyone's career.
"There seems to me very
little ground lor general
contentment. I fear the con-
tented man. I fear him, be-
cause there is no progress
unless there is discontent. "
— John R Marquand
"Everything great in the
world comes from neurotics. "
— Marcel Proust
Drill instructor: A life of anxiety,
anger, and stress.
Counting the number of
different words a defendant
used at various times during
testimony at a rape trial, a
University of Florida student
concluded that the accused
was guilty. Though the stu-
dent did not know it, a jury
The student made her
decision using a method de-
vised by University of Florida
linguist Ronald Carpenter.
She divided the defendant's
testimony into 50-word
blocks and found that he
jumped from an average use
of 35 different words per
block to 42 when he was giv-
ing his alibi.
"When you talk normally,
without stress, you tend
to repeat words fairly often,"
Carpenter explains. "When
you feel a need to be careful
about a statement that may
be self-incriminating, your
phrasing is no longer sponta-
neous. The number of differ-
ent words you speak goes
up," he says, "because you
choose words you wouldn't
Asked io perform his
statistical analysis on testi-
mony a witness gave on two
difterent occasions during
a North Carolina murder
case, Carpenter used his
method to correctly surmise
thai the witness was granted
immunity before testifying
a second time.
When he applied the test
to Richard Nixon's Checkers
speech, Carpenter found
that [he former president
"jumped way up on the scale"
as he lied about his wife's
birthdate and maiden name
toward the end of [he plea.
"I wouldn't say it's a method
of lie detection," says Car-
penter, "but it's ctose. It's a
good means of alerting
investigators Io a suspect's
most cautiously composed
"The beauty of the
method," which Carpenter
calls type-token ratio, "is that
it taps the very subtle style
or pattern of what someone
says. People may control
[heir emotions or outward ap-
pearance when they're not
telling the truth, but there's no
likely way to control the
pattern in which they speak
naturally." — Allan Maurer
"/ can believe the impossible,
but not the improbable. "
— G. K, Chesterton
It looks like the Genex
Corporation will market the
first over-the-counter product
made. using recombinant
DNA: a really good clogged-
At present, Genex makes
a cleaner called Proto, which
contains the enzyme alkaline
protease, a substance that
dissolves drain -stopping hair
into solution in two to six
hours. Genex was the first
company to apply this partic-
ular enzyme to the task of
dissolving hair and also the
first to separate protease
from Ehe bacterium that pro-
"We've isolated the en-
zyme," company spokesper-
son Shellie Roth explains.
"The other products use the
whole microorganism, so
they're not as effective," she
Now Genex wants to go
one step further. I! hopes to
be [he first company to
make an enzymatic product
by reprogiamming DNA.
The alkaline protease in
todays Proto is harvested
from the bacteria that pro-
duce it naturally. Company
researchers have cloned the
gene for the enzyme and
would like to use it to make
freak bacteria [hat would
churn out large quantities of
the hair-digesting stuff. But
Genex doesn'l know when the
new and more economical
manufacturing process will go
"There are too many its,"
Roth says. "The government
is one of the. biggest. Right
now it's assumed the EPA is
the agency that will need
to approve if. but trial's not
even certain. . . ."
Genex foresees a future
when government regulatory
procedures are clear and
one-celled Mr. Cleans are
busy providing American
homes with biomuscle.
— Leah Wallach
"The purest and most
thoughtful minds are those
which love color the most. "
— John Ruskin
Dirty sinks may be the target of the first over-the-counter
recombinant-DNA product— a powerful clogged-drain cleaner.
Mirrors could make hurricane
damage a menace of the past.
REALLY BIG MIRRORS
AND THE WEATHER
Don't like the weather?
Want to do something about
it? A Texas economist says
nature's atmospheric whims
could be brought firmly and
finally under human control by
placing huge mirrors in orbit
around the earth.
"What drives the weather
patterns of the globe," ex-
plains Daniel Marsh, of the
University of Dallas and
the National Center for Policy
Analysis, "is essentially the
light of the sun. The sun
heats the oceans — mostly at
the equator, least of all at
the poles. These temperature
differences drive the air
currents that form the basis
of our weather.
"If space mirrors were
sufficiently large," Marsh says,
"they could focus enough
sunlight on the earth to create
artificial weather patterns."
According to Marsh's
scheme, lightweight reflecting
panes of aluminum and
lar could be launched by
a series of shuttles and
assembled in low orbit. A
bank of mirrors three miles
across would be sufficient to,
say, burn off fog at major
airports — "a relatively small
task," in Marsh's view. Larger
mirrors could heat enough
air to cause a high-pressure
area in a hurricane zone,
bumping storms away like an
Aeolian pinball machine.
And superhuge orbiting mir-
rors focused on offshore
oceans could create water
vapor, which could then
be carried by trade winds to
bring rain to such drought-
plagued areas as Ethiopia.
So far, neither NASA nor
the National Weather Service
has expressed much inter-
est. All's the pity, says Marsh,
because the whole thing
could be accomplished for a
mere $35 billion — about
the cost of a fleet of B-1
bombers. — Bill Lawren
"Next to being right in this
world, the best of ail things is
to be clearly and definitely
— Thomas Henry Huxley
Since the beginning oi
space travel, space food has
been something of a sore
point between astronauts and
ground control. During the
Skylab missions, the crews
griped continuously about the
blandness ot the meals.
The second crew (Lousma,
Bean, and Garriot) stowed
away a variety of spices and
condiments, including horse-
radish'and Tabasco sauce
to doctor the irradiated
cusine. But once in space.
the spices seemed to lose
Several theories have
been tendered to explain this
phenomenon: Smell doesn't
travel quickly in the low
atmospheric pressure of a
space station; atid since
taste and smell are entwined,
all food seems bland. Also,
in the absence of gravity,
body fluids pool in the head
and chest. This congestion
prevents astronauts from
smelling and tasting their
food. Increase the atmos-
pheric pressure and relieve
the congestion, and taste
should return to normal.
Recently, however, the
Soviet space program has
presented new findings
on taste in space. According
to Dr. S. Baranski, of the
Military Institute of Aviation
Medicine, in Poland, "during
both endocrine and metabolic
shifts occur that may also
influence the overall perform-
ance of the taste organ,"
Baranski and his team devel-
oped an electrogustometer
to measure the receptivity of
cosmonauts' taste buds
aboard Soyuz 30 and 31. With
this apparatus, the Soviets
measured sometimes dra-
matic changes in "taste
thresholds" in orbit.
Baranski's findings, if they
hold up, may have a pro-
found impact on the mental
health of space crews during
Social scientists have ob-
served that food takes on a
new importance for people
confined to close quarters,
Mealtime becomes a neces-
i sary release from the bore-
dom imposed by the environ-
ment; cooks aboard
submarines and at Antarctic
stations take on an elevated
social status. If normal adap-
tation to weightlessness
includes a loss of taste, life in
space will lose much of
its savor. — Nick Engler
Drag onf lies, which have
been flitting across the
landscape for 250 million
summers, may provide clues
that could lead to a revolution
in aircraft design.
Researchers at the Univer-
sity of Colorado at Boulder
are studying how dragonflies
create and use unsteady
aerodynamics -to stay in the
air. Birds and aircraft utilize
steady-state aerodynamics —
the smooth flow of air over
the upper wing surfaces,
which creates a difference in
air pressure between the
upper and lower surfaces —
to provide lift.
The dragonfly, by contrast,
uses two pairs of semirigid
wings to generate local flows
of air that are different from
the surrounding atmosphere.
It then uses the miniaiure
vortexes, created in these
unsteady flows, to fly.
Dragonflies, according to
Marvin Lutlges, professor
of aerospace engineering
science, can hover with little
effort and fly backward,
sideways, and forward
al speeds up to 60 miles per
hour. More important, their
lift coefficient — the ratio of lift
to wing surface — is six. A
typical small aircraft has a lift
coefficient of one, and a
coefficient is two.
Luttges is studying dra-
gonflies because.they are
relatively simple creatures
compared with birds. Hum-
mingbirds are also quick and
can change directions in
midair, but they alter their
basic configuration in doing
so. "Not only do the bird's
wings move in flight, but
every feather that changes
place, every slight bending of
a wing, creates a different
wing shape in aerodynamic
terms." he explains. "The
geometry of the dragonfly is
simpler, but what makes it
complex is that we don't
understand the overall princi-
Luttges and fellow re-
searchers Donald Kennedy,
Peter Freymuth. and C. Y.
Chow hope to develop new
wing designs for high-per-
formance military aircraft, and
safety devices for commer-
cial airliners. They are explor-
ing the use of robotic aircraft
wings that would respond
instantly to sudden air gusts
over one wing, a situation
that can cause a plane
to crash. — Joel Schwarz
"The hell with criticism. Praise
is good enough for me. "
— Tailulah Bankhead
KIDDIE CLONE KIT
Larry Slot, a grad student
at MIT. had a problem that
most parents face: what
to give his kids for Christmas.
"I wanted it to be educa-
tional, and I wanted it to give
them higher values, an
urge to do something about
human problems," he says.
His solution: do-it-yourself
gene splicing. Slot's Dr.
Cloner's Genetic Engineering
Home Cloning Kit has all
you need to grow bacteria
and to transfer a gene from
one species to another.
It's so simple a child can
do it. You starl by growing
cultures of two bacteria
found in the mouth: Strepto-
coccus saiivarius, which
live by digesting sucrose, and
Streptococcus mitt's, which
have little use for the sugar.
Rupture the S. saiivarius cells
with lysozyme, then break
uptheDNA and purify the
pieces with gel electrophore-
sis, the standard technique.
Finally, use calcium chloride
(road sail) to insert the right
piece into S. mitis. Suddenly
S. mitis eat sucrose.
It's not much of an accom-
plishment unless you like
bad breath — get the engi-
neered bugs in your mouth
and you'll be able to kill
cockroaches without a
spray — but Slot hopes that
bigger things will eventually
come of it.
"Before college, I was a
bush pilot in Honduras,"
he says. "I saw a lot of human
misery there and in Africa
as well Biotechnology is our
only hope of dealing with
starvation, pollution, resource
depletion, and many other
problems that face us. In fact,
I came home and became
a biologist in order to do
something about that.
"But most biologists are
after more certain profits.
Companies just aren't inter-
ested in getting nd of pollu-
tion. That's where children
come in. They're idealistic
and creative. If we provide the
technology to do something
about these problems, they'd
In the long run, Slot hopes
to see a generation of self-
taught gene hackers change
the world, just as computer
hackers have done, if that
prospect holds any dangers,
they do not worry him. "It
would be possible for some
demented person to make a
weapon that would hurt a
lot of people," he says, "but 1
don't think that you could
wipe out humanity or anything
like that. The stories about
such things, which circulated
a few years ago, were really
Neither does he expect
trouble from the Environmen-
tal Protection Administration.
charged with regulating
genetic experiments. "These
bacteria exchange Iheir
genes all the time in nature,"
he says, "so this particular
experiment is exempt from
Slot has since left MIT to
market some research
equipment he designed and.
of course, his handy home-
Alas, the kit was not avail-
able for Christmas. Slot is
still working to bring the price
down to its intended retail
cost of $100. — Owen Davies
"Lou Gehrig came down with
Lou Gehrig's disease. What
are the odds of that happen-
— Don Ross
"The avoidance of taxes is
the only intellectual pursuit
that still carries any reward. "
— John Maynard Keynes
An offshore oil well in the
frozen Arctic blows out,
pumping millions of gallons
of thick crude oil up to the
surface of the frigid water and
coating ice floes for miles
around. The oil spill could
become an environmental
whales and other sea life, as
well as the region's abundant
population of sea birds.
A helicopter comes clatter-
ing over the gooey oil spill,
carrying a pair of moderately
powerful lasers. Invisible
infrared beams lance down
to the oil spill, and within
a second or two the oil begins
to burn furiously. The heli-
copter departs, and a few
hours later the last of the
spilled oil has burned off. The
Arctic environment is safe
That scene may become
reality within a few years
because lasers offer a safer
and more efficient way to
combat oil spills.
Usually, when cleanup
crews decide to burn off an
oil spill in the ocean, they use
pyrotechnic igniters — minia-
ture incendiary bombs.
Bui if the oil spill is in very
cold water or if the spill
has separated into many
different pools, it could take
hundreds or even thousands
ol pounds of pyrotechnic
igniters to get the job done.
Lasers can ignite the oil more
efficiently, meaning lower
costs for the cleanup. And
carrying a laser in a helicop-
ter is far safer than carrying
1,000 pounds of explosives.
This is the conclusion
reached by scientists at
Physical Sciences. Inc., a
small research company in
"One of the most difficult
situations." says Peter Neboi-
sine, who is heading the
research effort at PSl, "is
when a tanker begins leaking
oil without the crew realizing
it until several days later.
The trail of spilled oil could
stretch out over a hundred
miles or more."
In such a case, the oil
would have formed a huge
number of separate pools.
Perhaps thousands of igniters
would be necessary— as
opposed to a single helicop-
ter and its lasers, which
can ignite a pool of spilled oil
in a few seconds.
PSI's researchers have
experimented with two lasers
used in tandem: a continu-
ous-wave (CW) laser, which
heats the oil and begins*to
vaporize its topmost layer,
and then a powerful pulsed
laser, which ignites the
vapor and sets the still-liquid
oil beneath it ablaze. Their
laboratory experiments have
used a CW carbon dioxide
laser with a power output
of a few hundred watts and a
pulsed laser with a peak
power of one megawatt for a
one -microsecond pulse.
"We'll be ready for a 'back-
yard' demonstration soon."
says Nebolsine, who is
looking forward to a test in
Canada in a man-made
water-ice pond. — Ben Bova
"Whatever the sun may be. it
is certainly not a ball o!
—D. H. Lawrence
"A great swindle of our time is
the assumption that science
has made religion obsolete.
Alt science has damaged
is the story of Adam and Eve
and the story of Jonah and
the Whale. Everything else
holds up pretty well, particu-
larly the lessons about fair-
ness and gentleness. "
— Kurt Vonnegut. Jr.
Is your family domicile
fiush with sewage -disposal
devices? Do you have a
tub you can call your own?
Before you sink that extra
cash into a new car or sound
system, you might choose
to invest in a second bath-
room, especially if you have
children. So says a survey
conducted by Marjorie
A, Inman. of Purdue Universi-
ty's School of Consumer
and Family Sciences.
Inman and graduate stu-
dent Margie Sinn interviewed
a total of 200 families. Ac-
cording to Inman. couples
whose dwelling included
more than one bathroom felt
happy, safe, and contented
and perceived their homes as
pleasant, homey, spacious,
comfortable, convenient, and
organized. They felt they
had achieved their desired
Those in a home with only
one bathroom felt more
hemmed in. resigned, and
indifferent and considered the
place impersonal. Far from
reflecting the qualities of
home sweel home, the single-
bathroom dwellings were
rated as noisy, confining, de-
pressing, stressful, and
crowded. Couples with chil-
dren reported even more
stress than did those without
In each family, husband
and wife completed two
scales to measure environ-
mental perceptions, attitudes,
stress, and adaptations to
stress. Families' incomes, job
levels, and size of dwelling
covered a wide range
Though the tests' perspective
was environmentally broad,
the number of bathrooms
stood out among the results
as "one small, isolated section
that seems to be very, very
important," comments Inman.
Why the bathroom?
"Privacy seems to be of
greatest concern to families
with a single bathroom," says
Inman. "The number of
bathrooms in a dwelling af-
fects the family's social
climate and attitudes toward
the home." In small living
spaces, "even an extra half-
bathroom can make a big
difference, if it's a toilet and
sink." — Roopa fvlorosani
Family waiting lor the bathroom: No matter what your income or
job level, a second bathroom may be the ultimate key to happiness.
It's a clear plastic bubble —
the size of the end of a
man's thumb — with a pencil-
thin hole in it. Stick it in a
partially deaf ear and it may
work better than a $500
The bubble, designed by
Richard L Goods, professor
of surgery at Stanford Uni-
versity, outperforms electronic
hearing aids for many people
who have only partial hearing
loss. This is because it
boosts frequencies in the
range of the voice — 1000 to
2500 cycles per second
(cps)— without amplifying
background noise, which
typically occurs further up
the sound spectrum "What
we've done is miniaturize
the ear trumpet," Goode says.
improvement is about the
same as the effect produced
by a hand cupped against
the head. It occurs because
the device, which is individ-
ually fitted to — and nestles
inside — the helix of the
ear, changes the opening
size and volume of the cavity,
shifting its resonant fre-
quency downward from the
4000- to the 2800-cps range.
This has the effect of mini-
mizing the higher-frequency
background sounds. In res-
taurants and at cocktail
parties, it works better than
more powerful electronic
aids because it selects vocal
sounds and ignores noise.
The bubble measures
5 cubic centimeters and has
only a small cosmetic advan-
tage over an ordinary hear-
ing aid. Unless your hair
is long enough to cover it,
you may at first sight seem to
have soap in your ear. But
it doesn't need batteries
every fortnight, and electronic
feedback won't squeal next
to your eardrum if your fingers
fumble a volume control.
At present the bubble —
priced at $90 — is available
only to people who journey to
San Jose, California. That's
where the Innovative Hearing
Corporation makes and
dispenses the device, chris-
tened the Innovaid 600.
Demand is so intense, how-
ever, that there are plans
to open 65 clinics around the
United States during the
next two years, according to
Erin Bentiey, the firm's mar-
keting manager. "We've had
people fly in from the East
Coast just to buy the de-
vice." — Anthony Liversidge
"I'm not afraid of death. I
have no feelings about it. But
I don't believe in a superior
power and that we will all
endup hovering above. Hon-
estly, that's crazy."
— Marlene Dietrich
T!i3day-:.so!ni9i-& : ~
U;-.F : ■ . ■ ' * :. -
:-. ■■ ■ ■ : ..■! h the ami
!,■:■:;•■ i-Nv >■■■■■;■-■' ■ ■
oe cen d! the protein in w ds but th? ham
: : ■-;:->> ;;: -" t=" ;: : C-i :.y v ■ ■ '.■■ ■"..■"
would con*; 3hou!a
the soldier s be &■■./ o , :s.:"j r. . . .-Hack, thety-
. rosins would increase production of the brain
"chemical norepinephrine. The extra surge of
PAINTINGS BY DANIEL RIBERZANI
norepinephrine would boost the soldiers to
a lifesaving state of readiness, helping ihern
defeat enemy troops. After the viclory,
moreover, those with wounds could use the
excess norepinephrine to balance blood
pressure and to counter shock.
This fanciful scenario is based on a prem-
ise jarring in its simplicity: that certain nu-
trients in our diet can have a direct effect on
the production of brain neurotransmitters, the
chemical messengers that carry signals from
one nerve cell to the next. Neurotransmitters
like norepinephrine, in fact, transmit the nerve
impulses that control all emotions, percep-
tions, and bodily functions. These chemi-
cals are, essentially, responsible for just
about everything we do and feel.
Neurotransmitters come in dozens of va-
rieties, all in relative balance in (he healthy
brain. And standard belief has been that the
brain maintains that balance itself, adjusting
neurotransmitter levels independent of input
from the rest of the body or the world. But
now research coming out of the Massachu-
setts Institute of Technology, Harvard, and
the University of London indicates that such
neurotransmitters as norepinephrine fluc-
tuate in direct response to the type and
amount of nutrients in our blood.
Though many of these findings have not
yet been verified in humans, the implica-
tions are extraordinary. For just as tyrosine
might be able to boost norepinephrine, which
heightens alertness, an increase in other
everyday nutrients might enhance learning
and memory, ease pain, induce sleep or
wakefulness, curb appetite, and have a
powerful effect on mood. Moreover, re-
searchers say, if we can use common nu-
trients to manipulate neurotransmitters, we
may be able to treat maladies including ma-
nic depression, Alzheimer's disease, and
high blood pressure.
The potential for use — and abuse— of the
nutrients that affect neurotransmitter pro-
duction is so vast that some experts advis-
ing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
insist we begin to regulate these sub-
stances. Until now, the FDA has monitored
only drugs— used purely for medical appli-
cations — and food. But by year's end there
may be regulations governing substances
called medical foods, consisting of foods and
nutrient chemicals that could be used to al-
ter mood and treat disease.
Perhaps the most prominent of the medi-
cal foods are the nutrients known as precur-
sors, so named because they give rise to
neurotransmitters in the brain. Precursors
and the transmitters they spawn have fas-
cinated scientists ever since the turn of the
century, when researchers realized that
chemicals could help one nerve cell com-
municate with the next. Searching for these
magic messenger substances, brain re-
searchers eventually managed to isolate.
norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopa-
mine, which they classified in a group called
Then, in 1909, a German biochemist
named Casimir Funk noticed a structural
similarity between epinephrine and tyro-
sine, an amino-acid component of protein
foods. Funk concluded that the transmitter
was derived from the nutrient, Ihus identify-
ing the first nutrient precursor for a chemical
in the brain.
Research on these substances contin-
ued, but progress was agonizingly slow. Fi-
nally, in 1950, a Swedish biochemist named
A. Lund used fluorescenl light to measure
the minuscule amounts of neurotransmitter
produced by the brain. Using this tech-
nique, doctors proved that Parkinson's dis-
ease was caused by a deficiency of the neu-
rotransmitter dopamine. By loading their
patients with a precursor to dopamine, they
could mitigate the disease.
But treatment for Parkinson's disease was
just the beginning. Scientists were starting
to understand other neurotransmitters and
their nutrient precursors, too. In the early
Sixties, for instance, the biochemist and No-
bel laureate Julius Axelrod, head of a lab at
the National Institutes of Health, studied such
neurotransmitters as serotonin — implicated
carbohydrates do for these
people? Exactly what
antidepressant drugs do:
mood, diminish sensitivity
stimuli, ease the way to sieep.^
in abnormalities from depression to insom-
nia — and acetylcholine, whose level is con-
spicuously reduced in those with Alz-
heimer's disease. Axelrod's ambitious goal
was to establish the mechanisms by which
neurotransmitters were formed and re-
leased. And he had given part of the prob-
lem to a crack young neuroendocrinologist
and physician named Richard Wurtman.
Wurtman's piece of the puzzle seemed
narrow enough: He was trying to figure out
how the brain might control the ebbs and
flows of certain chemicals in the body at
large. After a while, he began to focus al-
most entirely on two substances: the amino
acid tyrosine, introduced into the body in the
form of protein foods; and the enzyme tyro-
sine transaminase, which breaks down the
tyrosine that has been consumed.
To do his experiment, Wurtman kept or-
dinary laboratory rats on a standard diet and
charted the chemical composition of their
blood. Soon he noticed that each evening
after dark, the level of tyrosine transaminase
increased by a factor of five.
Figuring that the enzyme was controlled
by the brain, Wurtman removed the pituitary
gland from several rats. Normally, the pitui-
tary, a bulblike structure in the-center of the
brain, stimulates the production of enzymes.
The operation should have broken the nightly
rhythmic increase in the enzyme, but the
cycle rolled on, unchanged.
Wurtman was still working on the problem
when, in 1967, he moved to MIT. There he
met the renowned Dr. Harnish Munro, a
member of the school's nutrition depart-
ment. "Since he was down the hall from me,
I started to learn a little about nutrition from
him," Wurtman relates. "He told me that when
animals eat, amino acids travel from the in-
testine to the liver, where they induce the for-
mation of enzymes."
Investigating- the lead, Wurtman learned
thai the amino acid tyrosine had in fact ar-
rived in the liver, inducing the production of
the enzyme tyrosine transaminase. Further-
more, since rats are nocturnal and eat only
after dark, it made sense that the enzyme
surged at night. Thus, Wurtman reasoned,
the level of tyrosine in the blood was con-
trolled not by the brain, as had long been
thought, but directly by diet. The same might
be true for other amino acids as well.
Wurtman's team at MIT went on to test that
hypothesis by having human volunteers fast.
"If someone fasted for twenty-four hours,"
he soon found, "the blood levels of the amino
acids stayed the same. There were no
rhythms at all. Soil was eating and eating
alone that made Iho amino- acid rhythms go
up and down. And the shape of the rhythm
varied according to what you ate."
Wurtman took this discovery and made a
dramatic intellectual leap: If a meal controls
the level of amino acids in the blood, and if
certain amino acids give rise to neurotrans-
miiters in the brain, then wouldn't the meal
itself dictate how much transmitter was
made? And if so, wouldn't that meal influ-
ence behavior and even disease?
Wurtman decided to try to answer these
questions by studying tryptophan, a com-
mon amino acid and the precursor for the
neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin,
thought to affect sleep, depression, and pain,
is still only parl.y unders:ooc. Yet, Wurtman
reasoned, chemical and behavioral work in
the lab could prove whether tryptophan did
affect the level of serotonin.
Wurtman's first test was an unmitigated
success. He gave lanoraiory rats pure tryp-
tophan, not only doubling the level of the nu-
trient in the blood but also raising the level
of serotonin in the brain. These results,
moreover, paralleled other clinical experi-
ments. Dr. Ernest Hartman, of Tufts Univer-
sity Medical School, for instance, showed
that when people ingest pure tryptophan
they fall asleep more quickly. And only re-
cently, Dr. Steven Zeisel, of the Boston Uni-
versity School of Medicine, showed that in-
fants given tryptophan fall asleep faster than
those fed formula with the amino acid valine.
' But despite the initial success, Wurtman's
second experiment raised more questions.
He wanted to try to lower the level of sero-
tonin by decreasing tryptophan. And to do
that, he gave his rats a dose of insulin, the
hormone that is released from the pancreas
after [he consumption of carbohydrates. In-
sulin switches on the body's metabolic up-
take mechanism, causing it to consume the
amino acids that have enlered the blood. By
injecting his animals with insulin, Wurtman
reasoned, he could induce a drop in the
amino acid tryptophan and in the neuro-
Bui (he experiment didn't work. Wurtman
and his team soon realized that high doses
of insulin were causing serious side effects,
including drastic disturbances in the rats'
brain metabolisms. Pure insulin was just too
powerful to yield clear-cut results.
So Wurtman decided to feed the rats a
pure carbohydrate meal instead. This would
stimulate a normal level of insulin as part of
. the digestive process and would not throw
the brain out of whack. Wurtman had turned
an important corner: He had decided to use
food instead of a drug to induce an effect.
He was playing Into instead of against the
body's regulatory mechanisms.
But this approach failed, too. In fact, a meal
consisting of carbohydrates did not lower the
level of serotonin in the brain; it raised that
level instead. A search of the literature told
Wurtman why. Tryptophan was the only
amino ac:o not aTected by insulin.
The scenario Wurtman proposed as a re-
sult of this finding was simple but profound.
A meal of carbohydrates would stimulate the
secretion of insulin. The insulin would wash
all amino acids except tryptophan from the
blood. And without competition from other
amino acids, more tryptophan would reach
the brain, stimulating the production of the
Moreover, Wurtman suggested, when-
ever the brain had a shortage of serotonin,
it would somehow develop a craving lor car-
bohydrates. In other words, the brain would
always be attuned to the body's nutrient sta-
tus. And that knowledge would then deter-
mine what we ate.
To test this theory, Wurtman and his wife,
Judith, an MIT nutritionist, studied a group
of obese individuals who craved carbohy-
drates. The subjects were allowed to select
the ingredients of their own meals from foods
rated for caloric, fat, carbohydrate, and pro-
tein content. Between meals, they had ac-
cess to carbohydrate and protein snacks
from vending machines.
At mealtimes, the Wurtmans found, their
obese subjects consumed an average
amount — about 1,900 calories per day, with
protein and carbohydrates in nearly text-
book-perfect balance. But for snacks, these
individuals consumed an additional 1,000
calories per day in pure carbohydrates.
"It was clear that two things were happen-
ing," says Wurtman. "When the subjects
were eating at mealtime, their regulatory.
system functioned properly. But during the
day, that system stopped functioning, and
they suddenly needed to pig out on carbo-
hydrates. I think," he adds, "that they were
In other words, Wurtman explained, when
the brain sensed a decrease in the serotonin
level, it initiated a craving for carbohydrates.
Those carbohydrates started the insulin
cascade, which, much like a drug, allowed
tryptophan to enter the brain, raising the level
of serotonin in the process.
Though this theory is far from proved, the
Wurtmans recently gave their obese volun-
teers fenfluramine, a drug that stimulates the
production of serotonin in rats. The result;
The volunteers reduced the amount of car-
bohydrate snacks they ingested.
This study, Wurtman adds, indicates a link
between carbohydrate craving and sero-
tonin-related depression. 'Ask Judy's obese
people how they feel before they eat the car-
bohydrates and how they feel afterward," he
says. "To describe how they feel before eat-
ing, they use the same words depressed
patients use to describe their mental stales:
anxious, tense, unhappy. After eating the
carbo snacks," he says, "they say they feel
less konse, even relaxed."
"What do the carbohydrates do for these
people?" asks Wurtman. "Exactly what an-
tidepressant drugs do: They increase sero-
<mBy the end
of this year there could
be an entirely
new ciass of substances,
foods, consisting of nutrients
thought to alter
mood and treat diseased
tonin and thereby alleviate depression. They
improve mood, diminish sensitivity to nega-
tive stimuli, ease the way to sleep."
This idea is consistent with research from
the National Institute of Mental Health. There,
psychobiologist Norman Rosenthal has
learned that during short winter days, when
there is less sunlight, some people consist-
ently become depressed. One of the key
symptoms of this recurring depression,
called SAD, for seasonal affective disorder,
is a powerful carbohydrate craving that
arises at around the same time the depres-
sion begins. Rosenthal hypothesizes that this
may be due to a decrease in serotonin, which
creates the depression and signals the body
to eat carbohydrates.
Rosenthal also speculates that SAD may
be related to an excessive amount'of the
hormone melatonin. Melatonin is sup-
pressed by light, so it can sometimes ac-
cumulate during the relatively dark days of
winter. And, adds Rosenthal, melatonin is lit-
erally made from serotonin, Thus the in-
crease in melatonin during the dark winter
months could be depleting serotonin, caus-
ing depression and the carbohydrate crav-
ing that results.
The notion that nutrients might work as
mood regulators makes sense to Rosenthal.
"People with depression often have accom-
panying eating disorders — loss of appetite,
carbohydrate craving, even anorexia or bu-
limia," he says. "Their irregular eating pat-
terns may be an attempt to regulate the level
of various chemicals in the brain."
But serotonin is not the only neurotrans-
mitter implicated In depression. Research
indicates that a deficit of norepinephrine may
result in clinical depression as well. And ac-
cording to Wurtman, norepinephrine's
amino-acid precursor, tyrosine, may be just
what the doctor ordered.
Psychiatrist Alan Gelenberg, of Harvard,
has been investigating that possibility for
several years. In his most widely cited ex-
periment, one that has never been repli-
cated, he described a thirty-year-old woman
who took tyrosine for two weeks: Her
depression improved markedly, according
to the psychological testing measures used.
Then a placebo was substituted for tyrosine,
and within one week her depressive symp-
toms returned. A resumption of tyrosine
yielded a second marked improvement.
Though Gelenberg himself is skeptical of
these results, Wurtman claims that they make
sense. It's hard to replicate such experi-
ments, he says, because depression is re-
lated to norepinephrine deficiency in just a
traction of the cases.
Moreover, he adds, depression is just one
of the many maladies that nutrient precur-
sors may one day cure. The most dramatic
use for these nutrients, he says, may be in
the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, which
afflicts the elderly with a progressive loss of
memory and, finally, full-blown dementia.
The first indication that precursor therapy
could help Alzheimer's victims came in 1976,
when two groups — one led by Peter Davies,
of the University of Edinburgh Faculty of
Medicine, the other by David Bowen, of Lon-
don's Institute of Neurology — found the first
clear biochemical abnormality ever associ-
ated with Alzheimer's disease. They discov-
ered that virtually all Alzheimer's victims have
a severe deficit of the neurotransmitter ace-
tylcholine. It seemed, at least to Wurtman,
that if some way could be found to boost the
acetylcholine level, the disease's progres-
sive symptoms might be slowed or stopped.
And an obvious way to achieve this was by
loading the blood with acetylcholine's nu-
trient precursor, a substance called choline.
Wurtman first tried the strategy on rats and
found that an increase in dietary choline el-
evated the level of acetylcholine in the brain.
Then he began to experiment with humans,
feeding a group of voluntary subjects sup-
plemental choline in the form of a naturally
occurring substance called lecithin. "The
choline concentration in their blood rose to
levels that are high enough to stimulate brain
acetylcholine in rats," Wurtman reports.
Moreover, he adds. Harvard doctor John H.
Growden found that administering lecithin in
combination with other drugs increased the
level of choline in the subjects' cerebrospi-
nal fluid. The implication: The extra choline
'.";ON ' INUL.I3 ON PAGE 44
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id- hot and
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Then he placed shock-absorbing rubber pads inside and give it top prize. When C
I the coin, using a metal rod finished with his associate's degree in r...... ^^...
ner State Technical College.
es of aluminum. First he cut
ifornia, first unlaced a baseball enough to remove the rubber- threaded the long aluminum piece, then cut and polished its
"*";hed the skin, leaving the last half tip to a specified diameter (in tl
inch loose. He
inserted it into the empty skin, crushed the skin, and pushed i
does have access oc I no human brain.
These results have recently been bol-
stered by Dr. Raymond Levy, of the Univer-
sity of London Faculty of Medicine. In the
only long-term, carefully controlled study of
supplemental lecithin, Levy found conlinu-
ing behavioral improvement in 8 out of 24
Alzheimer's victims. According to Levy, those
eight had an average age of seventy-nine,
whereas those who did not respond had an
average age of sixty-nine. The implication,
Wurtman suggests, is that those who de-
velop Alzheimer'? disease later in life con-
tract a milder form of if, a form linked to def-
icits of the neurotransmitter acelylcholine.
Those who contract the disease earlier may
have problems with a host of other neuro-
transmitters as well.
But despite the apparent success of these
experiments,. other research is less promis-
ing. Psychiatrist Kenneth L. Davis, director
of one of the largest Alzheimer's research
programs in the country and the first clini-
cian to administer choline for the disease,
describes his results as "uninspiring." And
Dr. Israel Hanin, chief of psychiatry at the
University of Pittsburgh Medical School, has
been unable to replicate Wurtman's seminal
experiment, in which increased dietary cho-
line boosted the brain's acetylcholine level.
Indeed, a number of clinical psycholo-
gists say they doubt that nutrient precursors
will ever replace drugs. Tryptophan or car-
bohydrate foods will never be as effective
as sleeping pills, many contend, and tyro-
sine or high-protein meals will never in-
crease alertness as well as amphetamines
do, "It is critical, true, and irnporlanl," says
one source, to recognize that nutrient pre-
cursors will probably have a limited range of
And Boston University's Dr. Steven Zeisel,
who studied the amino-acid content of infant
formula, warns that altering the normal bal-
ance of amine acids can d s ; upt protein syn-
thesis in the body's cells. Only a drastic im-
balance yie-ds those die;;::-] Zeisel says, but
since anyone can now buy unlimited quan-
tities of lecithin, tyrosine, and tryptophan in
health-food stores, the ootential for danger
is there. Adverse side effects can run from
stunted growth to an "overall failure to thrive."
Since protein synthesis is critical in the de-
velopment of a feius, he adds, pregnant
women experimenting with the substances
could do particular harm.
Wurtman shares Ihese concerns. He em-
phasizes that medical use of nutrient pre-
cursors should oe hmited under strict FDA
guidelines. And he believes that ail of his hy-
potheses must be extensively verified in
tightly controlled human slud'es. Toward thai
- end, he is busily trying to convince multina-
tional food and oha-'rr.aceuiical companies
io participate in ihe work. Though results from
these corporations are not yet in, Wurtman
has been hugely successful in enlisting in-
terest from big business. Unilever, in the
Netherlands, is researching the possible
drug implications of lecithin, and the Thomas
J. Lipion Company is producing lecithin-en-
riched noodles for experiments with Alz-
heimer's disease. Pierrel, in Italy, is testing a
tyrosine intravenous solution for the treat-
ment of traumatic shock. "It is dangerous to
be wrong," Wurtman says, "but lean be en-
thusiastic because, to my knowledge, I have
not been wrong. This is because my labo-
ratory has a 'Rule of Three.' Nothing leaves
here until at least three different people at
three different times have confirmed it inter-
nally. This is done in a coded way, so no one
knows exactly what he is working on. I fell
my grad students that after publication, this
will protect them. If, later on, someone out
there claims he cannot confirm our findings,
thai's his problem."
But even if Wurtman is dead wrong and
nutrient precursors tail as treatments for Alz-
heimer's disease, obesity, depression, or in-
somnia, food-borne precursors will serve a
valuable purpose. Choline, tryptophan, and
tyrosine are sa~e, fexoie icols for exploring
the mind. And because they are natural sub-
stances, they may enable us, for the first time,
to chart complex psychological processes
without disrupl ng the do icste neurochem-
isiry of the functioning brain. DO
WP 8 *^ ' - " «?
A \ VjL/ J& J^ w9$t)
\\ 8^.^^ m %, ■
ii v-i-i-^ 7 ^^jy^^^ ^^cr
.. "1 know we're human, but 1 iorget if we're pre-, near-, or sub-."
The quintessential future bureaucrat knows the
power of words and will use
them to justify, to control, and perhaps to destroy
BY BARRY N.MALZBERG
I prepare "captured secret documents." A smattering
oi Russian, hints of Spanish, un peu French, some Chi-
nese; it is not imporiant thai 1 be fluent in these lan-
guages as long as 1 can provide what might be called
their flavor. The "documents" are intended to read as
translations anyway, which excuses many limitations in
style. They contain polemics about the need for world
conquest, interspersed with statistics so dull that they
must chill: feed grains, diseased chickens, pastures,
coal mines, resources. The style is horrifying, but that
is the agency's problem, not my own. I merely conform
to established rules, I follow formal.
This job — and I regard it solely as a job; I have no
delusions of grandeur here — cost me a promising re-
lationship recently, It is of this that I wish to speak-
however hesitantly— for the files. I have been instructed
to do this, Otherwise it is not to be discussed outside
of context. Francine, however, was disinger
me— I knew less then — I was also a little bit of a patriot
and proponent (fool! ) of relative openness in affairs. So
I told her. more or less, what I did. It took Francine a
while to grasp the context, but when she did, her re-
action was one of disgust. "You're a functionary." she
said, "a clerk. Don't all of the lies sicken you?"
"They are not lies. I choose to believe they reflect a
higher truth in the endless battle between the Soviet
bloc and the Western forces of light."
"We've heard that rationalization for half a century,"
Francine said. She was really quite angry. I am doing a
poor job, I sense, of conveying her outrage. (My prose
is more keyed toward the smoothly bureaucratic. It is
all a matter of training.) "This is crazy.'' she said. "You
mean you write this stuff so that when the troops come
in they plant the documents and then those documents
PAINTING BY FASSONI
become whal are suoposed to be captured
from somebody's files?"
"Secret documents," I pointed out. "Tran-
scripts and writings that were supposed to
have been destroyed or taken away and
were instead left behind by the enemy in their
headlong flight. Captured public docu-
ments would be another division."
"Are you trying to tell me you just sit in front
of a typewriter arc. make up this stuff? That's
Well, perhaps it is, considered in thai way:
I had never done so before. I gather that I
am being rather light on characterization.
Characterization and her handmaiden, de-
scription, are not to be neglected in certain
■ Francine was five feet four, with a certain
severity of mouth and cheekbones, perhaps
a consequence of her upbringing in the mine
country of Pennsylvania but more likely as-
sociated with the fact that she was a master
of arts in nursing ad ministry I ion and had seen
a good deal in her time, rot the least of which
was the interior of my apartment, if not my
unrevealed psychic (Mo. I had seen little and
had been nowhere; travel, in the viewpoint
of my mentors, not being conducive to that
free flow of the imagination needed to pro-
duce fine secret documents.) Breasts two,
eyes blue, ass nicely formed, and- so on, and
I would go into further particulars of appear-
ance and physical relationship if they were
relevant under any circumstance. They are
"This is bizarre. "Francine said. "I've never
heard of anything like it. Whyare you telling
me all this?"
"You said you wanted a sharing relation-
"But this is crazy."
"Crazy?" I said, and added an agency
dictum, "in war nothing is crazy, and we are
in deadly combat. We make up everything,
yes. but only in a tight format. There's a style
sheet, there's rigid schematizaiion of the
voicing, and there are lists of facts, all of
which must be included in a certain fashion.
Actually," I emphasized, "it's a very de-
manding job, fully deserving of its GS-eigh-
teen rank, and we're thinking about making
a formal appeal for reclassification."
"Who are J we'?"
"All of us in the branch, of course."
"You mean, there's a whole little disgust-
ing army of clerks. Of captured secret doc-
"Our official classrica:ion : s informational
writer" I said, "but I wouldn't really object to
"Well, I object to every aspect of it," Fran-
And so on and so forth. It was a difficult
argument in a difficult time, and it is not, pen
haps, worthwhile !o extend this transcript.' I
have included this much only to indicate that
I am well aware (so are all of us on this level)
of the contempt that my occupation incites
in some quarters. I am not unaware of pain,
nor unacquainted with grief. Looking at this
objectively (and objectivity is the grand, sad
curse of the century), there is something fu-
tile, something indcec cierkiy about prepar-
ing crude drafts, in uncertain language, of
materials that will never be read other than
by a skeptical smattering of the public. There
is something awijl about i..s"ilying troop ac-
tions that are. ps-haos. unjustifiable, led by
interests who are, to some, unspeakable. But
I am no politician.
Politics and the civil service are kept sep-
arate by fiat. Insulated by the Career & Sal-
ary Plan, I minimize implication.
Someone, after all, has to prepare the
captured secret documents; reporters are
persistent, the times insist upon evidence for
everything, and I na-^e learned to do my work
as well as anyone eould under the circum-
stances. Me and my army of clerks. (Army?
There is none such; Francine had it wrong.
There are only a dozen of us, and we are, of
course, kept separate not only by area of
expertise but by anonymity. My colleagues
have never been idem Nod to me. I learned
we were a dozen only through captured se-
'•In war nothing
is crazy, and we are in
We make everything up,
yes, but only in
a tight format. There's
a style sheet,
and there are lists offacts.*
A note on human vanity and folly; In the
adjoining room of this apartment — I work and
sleep in the windowed partition, do my
wooing there as well — lies the library of my
collected works. As every writer must have
his pride and Pictography, so must I have
mine. Lined up in uniform binders are the
output of all my years at the agency: original
drafts of documents captured in Beirut, the
Antilles. Cairo, San Miguel de Allende, and
other places. Most of these bear the mark of
the haste and pressure under which they
were written (deadlines are pressing in this
business), but in every one of them will be
at least a page and so-met. mes two of prose
that I consider to bear my own personal im-
press, prose thai sings or at least moves to
a certain inner rhythm. Eighty-six knives to
the- oppressors, an arcing bullet- lor the
American swine, hold the temple inviolate —
this is one of my favorite phrases (unearthed
by the liberating troops in Port-au-Prince). A
four-year plan past folly, a hole in the tent of
American domain — there is another. Most of
these documents, of course, are written in a
prose of the most stale and ponderously bu-
reaucratic sort, this to grant the counsel of
realism, but every' now and then — as I in-
sisted to Francine, as I insist to you — the
personal voice must extrude. A man must
have his pride. A man must, after all, have
his ino : viduality.
They understand this in the agency, and
as long as it does not interfere with the es-
sentials, they have even been known to en-
courage this approach. There is more com-
passion, greater understanding within those
corridors than outsiders could ever under-
stand. This is not a dehumanizing business;
it breeds great feeling.
So that other room — my library, the col-
lected works — is inviolate, stark but for the
shelves and the thin fluorescence with which
the carefully stacked binders are illumi-
nated. It is that place (I like to feel) in which
all purpose resides, a repository, 1 think, and
a hommage to iarger purposes. For there
are not, I have come to know, merely the six
reasons cited in the Career & Salary bro-
chure for the advantages of this employ-
ment, but a seventh reason, too. And it's the
most important of all: giving testimony, to
change the face of the earth a little. All of us
who would be artists, 'who would use the
medium of words or paint or song, are driv-
en by this need to alter, however slightly, that
terrain upon which we have found our-
selves. And my alteration, stacked floor to
ceiling in the spackled. glowing binders that
contain not only statistics but a kind of po-
etry. . . my alteration, it has to be under-
stood, Is very important to me; it matters, it
is not trivial. I must make this clear, this is not
insignificant material, not hackwork but tes-
timony. That seventh reason portends: to
make a difference.
And a difference has been made; my
captured documents have given justifica-
tion where such did not before exist. 1 have
shifted the balance of popular opinion away
from loathing, and I have the evidence to
cite. But this is not a document of sheer ex-
position, as we would call it at the agency;
this is a narrative of some dimension and
dramatic weight. I come before you not only
with a position to cite but a story to tell. And
I come to explain not only Francine (al-
though she has a part in this) but to explain
much that goes past her. Francine being ul-
timately only a symbol. "I'm going to write to
all of the newspapers," she said toward the
conclusion of the discussions to which I have
already alluded. "Do you understand that?
I'll publish in the letters-to-the-editor col-
umns, and I won't stop there. I'll write my
congressman, I'll send communications to
action-news-drama center. Someone will
believe me. Someone will at last accept this
bizarre truth: that there are roomfujs of little
clerks like yourself making up captured
documents to justify our disgusting adven-
tures and equations, our rotten entrepre-
neuring. I'll make them believe it, I swear I
will, and it will never be the same for you
again. Just you wait and see."
"Francine." I said, "you are overreacting.
It's merely a. job, Francine. It's employment
like any other, it can become as routine as
those facets of anguish — melanoma, termi-
nation, helplessness, suffering — to which
you are exposed every cay in your own work.
II is necessarily impersonal. You can get used
to it, believe me."
"I'll never become numb to it," she said,
"I'm not a clerk, not a functionary. Thai's why
I got the master's: I had to get off the floor. I
couldn't look at their eyes anymore, lie to the
relatives, watch them as they stared out the
windows at the sun in the late autumn, I had
to indulge some separation, open up dis-
tance, stop lying, find a way to get away from
it. But not you, you would be there at this
moment, holding their hands and telling them
that remissions were common in their situa-
I should explain — lest Francine seem un-
duly unsympathetic at this point, so repre-
hensible lhat a sensible reader might ask,
"Why is a person like you even involved with
her anymore?" — thai it was not necessarily
always this way.
On our very first date, arranged by a video-
computer service, Francine and I had sex-
ual relations and enjoyed one another enor-
mously, and it was only after some time (and
after the initiation ol conversation) that mat-
ters moved to this- state of relative collapse.
Francine, I learned, is one of those who re-
jects anonymous, sustaining relationships
and wants real human contact This is ter-
rific for arguments but not so good for sex.
Agency employ or not, I am a normal Amer-
ican male, heterosexual to the core, thirty-
3 driven and necessitous, and I
would far rathe- get '■■; d [especially anony-
mously) than become involved in discus^
sions like this. I teel justified, powerfully so.
"This is unbelievable," she said, poinling
to the binders. This argument was taking
place in the library. I had made the mistake
of faking her into the library. "You save all of
this stuff? You're proud of it?"
She reached up, took a binder, opened it,
and stared at it, "This is full of French" she
said, "and strange- coking letters. You know
"Cyrillic," I said, "tor the Russian lan-
guage. This gives it authenticity. Keep on
going Ihough, you'll find something that you
can read if you just give it time." I maintained
a sense of pride in my work. Even then, I only
wanted a reading.
She turned some pages. "Running dog,"
she read, "imperialist sw'.ne will fall within the
mark, and the penitentiary of the century will
not, cannot, wholly enclose them."
"Dominican Republic. 1988," I said rather
"Praise -the keepers, for the keepers will
set us free; know the truth, and the truth will
cut our shackles."
"Yes," I said. "Isn't that good?"
"You wrote that?"
"Every word of it,"
'And you're proud of this?"
"I'm not ashamed, Francine, if that's what
you're asking me to say, I have nothing to be
She hurled the binder on ihe floor, "I can't
tell you how angry this makes me," she said.
"This then, this is the face of the enemy, the
liars who have turned this country into the
nightmare of the century. You serve the forces
of this lie, and yet you're a clerk, just a func-
tionary!" She reached, took another binder
from the shelf, threwthis down unopened.
"This is .terrifying," she said, "it's absolutely
terrifying. I can't believe that you've told me
"You're causing disorder."
"You're causing disorder, Francine, and I
won't have it. So please, I'm asking you to
"I'm causing disorder," she said fiercely.
"Oh my — "
"This is my library. I'm proud oi it. I worked
hard to put it together. My writings are here.
I don't want them disturbed, and I don't want
to argue over them anymore."
She opened the binder, clawed out a
sheet, "this says something about steel
quotas," she said, rolled it into a ball, threw
it at me. She ripped out another sheet, scan-
ning it hurriedly.
"I mean it. I said stop it, Francine," I said.
I fell mysell beginning to flush. I knew ar-
rhythmia would shortly follow. I am quite se-
rious about my collected works. Some as-
pect of permanence and history is important
to me. this is testimony. Call it evidence if
you like. Call it the evidence of the century.
Having tamed the unruly hadrons
with his conceptual whip of colors, flavors,
and quarks, this Nobel Prize-
winning physicist tries to snare the elusive
unified field theory in the weird,
ten-dimensional realm of "superstring"
Three quarks for Muster Mark" was James Joyce's call in
Finnegan's Wake. Was ii a plea for drinks from the pub
man Humphrey, a seagull's cry, or three acts ol love? It
could have been any of these, says physicist Murray Gell-Mann
with a sly grin. But for him, quarks were something else when he
settled on the name about 22 years ago: They provided the es-
sential building blocks of subatomic particles,
"I think people have been too sober about all of this," Gell-Mann
remarked recently at his Aspen, Colorado, home, "I thought it would
be refreshing to use names based mostly on jokes because I wasn't
sure any name I could give them would be applicable perma-
nently If I had given them a pompous Greek name based on some
property we believe in today, they might in the future look anti-
quated. The real joke, of course, is that the name never meant
anything in the first place and so would never be obsolete."
Gell-Mann's whimsical name-calling didn't begin with quarks. In
1961 he entitled his monumental ordering of all the fundamental
particles the "Eightfold Way," the name of the Buddhist doctrine
describing the path to wisdom. Gell-Mann insists this was another
"colossal joke. And some rather silly people have tried to distort
this into a connection between particle physics and Oriental reli-
gion," he adds. "They've even written a book about it."
In the late Fifties, before the Eightfold Way, things were getting
out of control in subatomic physics, such was the vast proliferation
of particles. Hadrons — subatomic particles thought to be com-
posed of smaller particles. — had multiplied into an unmanageable
"zoo" of untamed, unclassified entities. And physicists were be-
ginning to suspect that the legions of hadrons were infinite. For-
tunately, as scientists began to organize the hadrons according to
vital statistics — mass, charge, and spin — patterns began to ap-
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTOPHER SPRINGMANN
pear. Gell-Mann was one of the first to see
the hidden design.
In the magnitude of its organization, the
Eightfold Way is sometimes compared to
Dmitry Mendeleyev's ordering of the atomic
elements into the periodic table. Both Gell-
Mann and Israeli physicist Yuval Ne'eman
independently noticed an order among
hadrons (the most common of which are
protons and neutrons). These particles' in-
terior structures— the complex landscape of
quarks — began to emerge.
Inside the squadrons of hadrons, quarks
carry specific fractional electric charges.
Quarks have "flavors," or characteristics,
which Gell-Mann dubbed up, down, and
strange. The only difference between up,
down, and strange quarks, so far as the
quarks' binding interaction is concerned, is
their mass. The up and down are very light.
The strange is about 50 times more mas-
sive. Later, two more flavors were discov-
ered — charm and bottom — and one more,
top, was conceptualized. All hadrons need
three quarks to be complete; yet no quark
can be extracted from a hadron. They are
forever locked in quark slavery inside the
bigger particle. Physicists say quarks are
Scientists these days are inclined to be-
lieve that things weren't always as compli-
cated as all of this appears. Perhaps there
was a time, for example, when there were
fewer lorces at work in the cosmos. Today,
you may recall, there are four. One is eiec-
tromagnetism, the power behind woofers
and tweeters and TV transmissions. The
second is the strong force, holding an at-
om's nucleus together; and the third is the
weak force, associated with the slow decay
of some particles. Gravity is the remaining
force. Back during the instant after the Big
Bang, scientists theorize, these four forces
were one. And in that brief time when the
unified force reigned, the universe was per-
fectly symmetrical. The growth of the uni-
verse, under these theories, is a story of suc-
cessively broken symmetries.
One way to test the theories is to classify
the particles according to their theoretical
symmetry. This is 'similar to botanical clas-
sification, in which plants are typed accord-
ing to their stamens or divisions of petals. In
particle physics, the groupings are made
according to spin. There are two kinds of
spin: a "real" spin, which is similar to the
earth's spinning on its axis while moving
through space; and isotopic spin, a meta-
phoric concept based on a mathematical
property. Isotopic spin distinguishes and
identifies the symmetry of the particles. Gell-
Mann has been able to predict and identify
this spin with an uncanny exactness.
The search for symmetry and unity among
the forces — a quest dating back to Ein-
stein — has led Gell-Mann and other physi-
cists to try to explore entirely new Worlds of
space and tlmerTo .outsiders, the worlds are
wonderlands, and the scientists are Chesh-'
ire cats spouting strange epigrams. Indeed,
Lewis Carroll might feel right at home with
one recent concept: supergravity. a daring
attempt to unify the quartet of forces. This
theory shows how all particles might join with
the force of gravitation- and its quantum (tiny
parcel of energy), thegraviton. Supergravity
is a web so newly spun that many physicists
themselves find it difficult to comprehend.
But for those who do, its intricate mathemat-
ical equations provide a dazzling window into
the birth of the universe, when space, time,
matter, and all the forces were fused into the
manifestations of a single, powerful grip of
In this tiny, embryonic universe, only su-
per par tides existed— nearly massless,
traveling at the speed of light, responding
only to the power that blazed forth from a
mass the size of a baseball. Each particle
was crushed to such a density that its grav-
itation was unimaginably strong.
Supergravity theory suggests a one-to-
one correspondence, or symmetry, be-
tween two distinct species of fundamental
particles: bosons and fermions. Bosons are
carriers of force; fermions are affected by
reduce to four dimensions if
that the ten dimensions
and roll up into a little
bail at every
point in space-time^
force. Supergravity theory holds that at the
Big Bang, fermions and bosons were differ-
ent faces of the same particle. Every particle
in the universe today — boson or fermion —
should "somewhere" have a superpartnerof
the opposite Species.
The universe has always been space-time
as well as matter-energy. The intense force
fields of the superdense moments of the early
universe had the power to sculpt space-time
into almost inconceivable dimensions. And
here the Cheshire cat grins wide: According
to recent versions of supergravity, the pri-
meval universe had 11 dimensions, instead
of the four of Einstein's world (three of space
and one of time). In that primordial, searing
explosion, the universe would have had
enough might to unfold its subnuclear-size
denizens to fully developed space-time su-
perentities, with each 11 dimensions of each
particle on equal footing. In the next few in-
stants, says the theory, thethree dimensions
swelled up to engulf the other seven. The
short-lived dimensions then roll up, out of
sight, into some sort of hyperball.
Gell-Mann's recent work has focused on a
newer offspring of supergravity: superstring
theory. It calls for a primeval universe of ten
dimensions. Gell-Mann thinks that super-
gravity is an approximation of superstring, a
launching point to "pursue the string."
Despite the multidimensional attractions
of physics, Gell-Mann still finds space-time
to pursue his other interests: birds, pre-Co-
lumbian pottery, ancfent coins, environmen-
tal issues, and his continuing search for
physics groupies. Physics, in fact, was not
his first love. He'd originally considered ar-
chaeology, linguistics, or ornithology. But
when he asked his father about these
choices, the reply was, "You'll starve!" As a
compromise, his father suggested physics.
"I took a course called Physics in high
school," Gell-Mann recalls. "It was the dull-
est course I'd ever taken and the only course
I'd ever done badly in. We learned about
heat, light, mechanics, sound, electricity,
magnetism, and so forth, as if they had noth-
ing to do with one another. I couldn't possi-
bly spend my life studying a stupid subject
like that." His father assured him it would get
better. And at age fifteen, Gell-Mann en-
tered Yale University to study physics.
He graduated four years later and went
on to MIT. At twenty-one, he had his Ph.D. in
physics and was off to Princeton Universi-
ty's Institute for Advanced Study. In 1955 he
headed west to the California Institute of
Technology (Caltech), in Pasadena, and by
1967, he was appointed the Robert A. Milli-
kan Professor of Theoretical Physics. He
claims it has never been his intention to stay
at Caltech this long. He is still there today
(permanently confined like his quarks, as it
were). And in 1969 he finally won the Nobel
Prize for physics — finally, because every-
one had expected him to win it in 1964.
Today, at fifty-five, Gell-Mann's time is still
consumed with physics, but he is also a di-
rector of the MacArthur Foundation, which
bestows fellowships to worthy scientists and
artists. He is a member of the board of trust-
ees of the Aspen Center of Physics and is a
citizen regent of the Smithsonian Institution.
Ron Schultz interviewed Gell-Mann in the
physicist's Aspen home, his Caltech office,
and some of the best restaurants in Aspen,
Pasadena, and La Jolla, California.
Omni: Was there one event that was pivotal
in shaping your approach to physics?
Gell-Mann: Very much so. For years I had
gotten good grades in science without un-
derstanding much. I was a machine for tak-
ing notes and regurgitating ideas for exam-
inations. All that changed after I attended
the Harvard-MIT theoretical seminar during
my first year in graduate school. The semi-
nar was a discussion group on theoretical
physics, particularly physics of nuclei and
elementary particles. The leading theorists
of Harvard and MIT met with other profes-
sors as well as postdocs and graduate stu-
dents of the two institutions. My way of think-
ing was so circumscribed by classes,
grades, and the notion of trying to please a
teacher that I couldn't see the scientific ac-
tivity taking place, This became evident to
me on the first day of the seminar. The
speaker was a Harvard graduate student
who described his doctoral research on a
certain nucleus, boron 10. He calculated the
energy for various descriptions of the nu-
cleus, seeking the lowest energy for differ-
ent values of its spin. He demonstrated ap-
proximately that the spin of the lowest state
was one — which everybody had already as-
sumed to be the case. I thought he had done
a good job presenting his work, and I won-
dered what the professors in the front row
would say about it. I couldn't get away from
the notion that the seminar was a kind of class
that would be graded by the professors.
.Then a grubby little man with a three days'
growth of beard got up and said in a rather
uneducated accent (I supposed he had
crawled out of the basement of MIT, where
he had been working on some kind of dirty
experiment), "Hey, da spin ain't one: it's free.'
Dey measured it!" Suddenly, in a blinding
Hash, I realized what the whole scientific en-
terprise was about. Impressing professors
in the front row was not important. Agree-
ment with observation, with thai grubby little
man, was what mattered. The observation
to which he referred was, in fact, a correct
measurement, and agreeing with correct
measurements is what physics is all about.
Omni: How, as you've said, is quantum me-
chanics — which underlies all modern theo-
ries of matter — a counterintuitive discipline?
Gell-Mann: Counterintuitive is not a word
natural scientists use often. Social scientists
use it more. We might say nontrivial instead.
What is meant is that quantum-mechanical
concepts don't come easily to the human
mind because they seem to contradict
everyday experience; the evidence. of ordi-
nary sensory observation. An ordinary per-
son used to looking at the world solely
through his senses is going to find quantum
mechanics peculiar. Even people steeped
in quantum mechanics feel a little queasy
about it. But a modern physicist must de-
velop a quantum-mechanical intuition — it's
of critical importance in creative work.
Omni: What are the central ideas in elemen-
tary-particle theory today?
Gell-Mann: All theoretical work on funda-
mental physics is based on quantum field
theory, in which every force is carried by a
quantum. For electromagnetism, the quan-
tum is the photon, a packet of electromag-
An atom is composed of a nucleus, with
positive electric charge, and, circulating
around the nucleus, are some electrons, with
negative charge. The nucleus, in turn, has
been known for more than fifty years to be
composed of neutrons and protons. The
electric force that holds the electrons and
nucleus together can be understood as
coming from the exchange of a photon be-
tween electrons and protons. Today the
electron appears elementary — there is no
evidence that it is made up of anything sim-
pler. But the neutron and proton, long thought
to be elementary, are now known to be com-
posed of simpler entities: quarks, which are
just as elementary as the electron.
The quarks are held together in both neu-
tron and proton by the exchange of messen-
ger quanta called gluons. We now have a
quantum-field theory of quarks and gluons,
which we call quantum chromodynamics, or
quantum color dynamics [QCD]. And we
think it's just as correct as the famous theory
of quantum electrodynamics that so beau-
tifully describes the interaction of electrons
and protons. [According to QCD theory,
each flavor of quark comes in colors. The
neutron or proton can be pictured as con-
sisting of three quarks: one red, one blue,
and one green — primary colors that, when
added together, produce the perception of
The name color has nothing to do with real
color but is a joke (based on human color
vision). Colored quarks and colorful gluons
are permanently confined inside the "white"
neutron and proton and can never escape.
They can be detected only indirectly. But the
indirect experimental proof of their exis-
tence inside is now overwhelming. In a num-
ber of these experiments, each quark or
gluon produces a jet, of directly observable
particles, as its signature.
Omni: Will we ever be able to detect an un-
Gell-Mann: I don't think so. I believe that the
confinement is absolute. But I suppose we
can't rule out the possibility of some tiny
leakage that we don't understand today. If
the confinement were not absolute, then
quarks would be of great practical impor-
tance because an isolated quark would be
absolutely stable. And an absolutely stable
object has a number of useful applications.
So if there were such a leakage and the
quarks could be isolated, an important
quarkonics industry would grow up. One
quark product could be the use of stable,
fractionally charged objects for catalyzing
[supporting] thermonuclear reactions. One
could imagine all kinds ot other applications.
But I doubt there'll ever be a leak discovered
that will permit the colored objects to emerge
Omni: Aren't there theoretical efforts to unify
all four interactions, including gravitation?
Gell-Mann: That is the grandest ambition of
all. Einstein dreamed of unifying gravitation
and electromagnetism in a unified field the-
ory. But he failed, and we think now that he
was doomed to fail because he didn't in-
clude the strong and weak interactions. And
not accepting quantum mechanics, he didn't
concern himself with a unified-quantum-field
theory, which would have included fields for
particles like electrons as well as for quanta
like the photon and the graviton [the quan-
tum of gravitation]. Today wehave a few ex-
citing possible theories that could fultill Ein-
stein's dream. These are related to the so-
called supergravity theories that have re-
ceived some publicity recently.
Omni: To what does the prdix super refer?
Gell-Mann: There are two broad classes of
elementary particles: fermions and bosons.
Fermions obey the exclusion principle — two
fermions cannot occupy the same place at
the same time. Bosons love to crowd into the
BY KARL HANSEN
Risa and I
PAINTING BY PAUL WUNDERLICH
hung naked in the center of the room, wrists
and ankles secured by silver shackles
chained to magbolts. She was true human
and was young and lovely: mahogany skin,
gleaming almost ocher in jovelight; long hair
shining like spun gold; eyes as bright as
fractured emeralds. Her legs were long and
lithe, her stomach was flat, her breasts were
still tumid wilh adolescence. White teeth bit
into her lower lip. Blood beaded along their
edges. She writhed in her bonds but could
not pull free.
A man faced the woman, also naked. He
too was of unaltered terran stock but could
not be called lovely; radiation scars puck-
ered his skin; one eye did not close com-
pletely. A skin cancer grew like lichen from
his right cheek. His hair was close-cropped
and once must have been black but was
now sprinkled with white from damaged
melanocytes. Bulky muscles had become
flabby with neglect. His name was Hitt.
The man used to ply an honest trade:
gunrunning tor the various insurgent hybrids
of most of the Outer Moons. He was quite
wealthy from it. Now he was retired.
The girl was a high-priced callbody. A deal
with her broker was made a short time ago.
So far. all had gone accordingly.
Hitt held an alphalash. Glowing filaments
dropped like a horsetail of optical fibers.
Protons dripped from their ends to bounce
on the floor. The girl's eyes vibrated verti-
cally, transfixed by the bounding protons.
Arm muscles flexed. Ionized air shrieked as
the alphalash swung its arc. Ozone fumed
into sharp olfactory tendrils. Shedded sparks
danced like dusi motes in a moonbeam.
Breath whistled from the girl's nostrils.
The lash touched naked flesh; skin
twitched into wrinkled blisters, then relaxed.
Glowing lines burned into the skin where
each filament of the lash touched; ener-
gized protons became embedded in epi-
dermis, where they slowly shed their energy
into pain receptors. Neurons then carried a
symphony of hurt. No discipline was as
painful as the proton whip. How did I know
that, I wondered? The girl did not cry out
from the first lash. The alphalash descended
again and again. Each time it struck, Hitt be-
came more excited.
I was lounging across the room on a
couch. Though Hitt could not see me, I
looked like a true human: one hundred eighty
centimeters tall, sturdily muscled, haughty
gray eyes, aquiline nose, chestnut hair, lips
that could be cruel. But 1 was not human.
Risa prowled like a cat through drawers and
closets, collecting valuables. She was not
human either. Her ermine fur had a silver
sheen. When she smiled, sharp teeth
flashed. Amber eyes, with pupils contracted
into vertical slits, glowed with their own light.
She appeared standard sphinx, save the
quivering tendrils about her head.
Though the callbody appeared human,
she was not real. She was an illusion.
A figment of my imagination only knew a's
much as I let it. A magician's image was
conjured for his pleasure and for the confu-
sion of his audience.
wanted witnesses to the night's activities. If
there were any, a ring on my finger broad-
cast a field that would confuse their sensors.
Risa discovered the wall safe behind a
mutaholo. She glanced in my direction and
smiled. I nodded.
Hitt split into two images. One ghost con-
tinued thrashing. The other walked over to
the safe and placed its palm on the sensing
surface while staring into a retinal camera.
Hitt would not remember any of this. Clever
psychosurgery might be able to dredge it
up, but not without damaging quite a bit of
memory. The safe swung open. Hitt fused
into one figure again and continued whip-
ping the girl. Risa looted the safe. She held
up her thumb. Time to end this psidrama.
By now the callbody was completely cov-
ered with ionic fire. Every square centimeter
of skin was alight with a webwork of decay-
ing protons. She did not scream or beg for
mercy. That made Hitt furious. He was even
was covered with ionic fire.
of skin was alight with a
decaying protons. She did not
scream or beg for
mercy during the ordeal $
more brutal with his lashing.
Hitt's reaction was predictable. His psy-
chopathology was quite conventional. I en-
vied him that. I wished I could be as sure of
my motives. But I couldn't. My past had been
constructed for the convenience of the
Corps. What dim recollections existed prior
to my conscription could not be trusted and
were as insubstantial as dreams.
But if I didn't know myself, I did know Hitt.
His rage at the girl's silence caused the al-
phalash to whip with a frenzy, seeking tender
places. Her skin burned in an incandescent
reticulum. I let the girl slump in her shackles,
as though he had killed her. (Some dim sense
of deja vu disturbed me. I had an uncanny
feeling I had seen all this before, as though
we were repeating an old ritual. I pushed the
Even the girl's apparent death did not ap-
pease Hitt's anger He slapped her across
the face, again and again. She did not re-
spond. He suspected she was feigning. He
kicked her. Her body rocked in its chains in
synchrony with his kicks. The girl's face
changed into another's: rouge-red cheeks,
white acrylic skin, poker-chip blue eyes, curls
ol yellow yarn, button nose. A doll's face. The
visage angered me. I did not know why it
should. But I was furious at Hitt.
Protons tied the girl's skin, embedding
themselves in Hitt's foot. He screamed and
stopped kicking her. His foot flamed with
ionic fire. He could not stand the pain, He
grabbed a sonic knife and cut off his own
extremity. But even that did not free him.
Neurons remembered and sang with phan-
tom pain. Hitt sank to the floor, moaning.
Before we left, I sent one final scene into
Hitt's mind: He hauled the callbody into the
shower and cut it into manageable pieces,
which were fed to the dispoz unit.
Risa and I were safe. I took her hand, and
we walked out the door. Hitt's thought swirled
after us, confused with pain. Yet within his
raveling mind tapestry, there was a locked
Weave. He kept some secret from us. No
matter. We had beaten him. Hitt would never
report the robbery; he thought he had a
murder to conceal from the varks. He would
not want to bring suspicion to himself. Our
larceny would never be investigated.
Safe in our own room, we made love.
Risa lay beside me on a bed of wombskin
in the Myssa Suite of the Hotel Ganymede.
There were eleven similar suites, each
named after one of the ancient city-states on
Earth. They formed a crystal duodecagon
atop the hotel's main spire, which rose two
thousand meters from the floor of Chalise
Crater to protrude through hydrocarbon
mists into clear, cold space.
Overhead, Jupiter hung like an injected
eye. Below, wisps of yellow fog lapped over
the edge ol the crater to swirl like wraiths
across pocked terrain. A room with a view,
the desk clerk had said. It ought to have one
for what the hotel charged. But we wanted
to be in proximity to the rich. The rich were
the only ones worth pandering to and prey-
ing on. Besides, the varks wouldn't be ex-
pecting us to stay in a suite of the most ex-
pensive hotel in the system. If any vice vark
had followed us from Titan, he'd be expect-
ing Risa and me to hole up in some seamy
icehouse in the combat zone.
But no one had followed. I'd made sure of
that. The ferret who'd made us in Chronus
city was now drooling and staring blankly at
his toes. He'd been brave but stupid. He
hadn't been wired: no hardware in his skull;
no cameras behind his eyes, no bugs in his
ears. All his data were stored in software,
including the on y evidence against us, A big
mistake. It would take the psychesurgeons
a year to bring his mind out of its autistic
fugue. And each of their psionic manipula-
tions would result in a few hippocampal syn-
apses shorting out. By the time he awoke,
he'd be lucky to remember his name, much
less the identity of the path team that had
once prowled his dream-time. Risa and I
would never be traced from Titan to Gan-
ymede. We'd already scored big with Hitt,
ten million in cash, not to mention gems and
drugs. Chalise was ripe for the taking; our
prey was everywhere perversions were
My hand stroked along her spine,
smoothing ermine fur; she arched her back
in rhythm. Static sparked blue between my
lingers. With my other hand, I traced faint
vibrations in her throat, smoothing away the
contractions. Her eyes closed halfway, their
irises caught and held jovelight like shat-
tered amber. Instead of hair, silver filaments
grew from her scalp, now quivering like fuzz
on a ihistle head. But they could lay flat and
would then be mistaken for the mane of a
sphinx. Her nostrils flared as she breathed.
She rolled over and kneeled above me,
straddling my body with hands and knees.
She bent to kiss me; a rough tongue slipped
past my lips. Furry breasts pressed against
my chest. I closed my eyes. We wandered
■ the psychic ether, riding updratts of thought.
Our mind's eye searched below for prey. I
looked for Hiit. He should still be in his room
above ours. But the room was empty. I ex-
panded the search. His thought patterns
were nowhere to be found. How could he
hide from our psychic senses? Only the dead
were safe from us.
Don't worry, Risa said in my thoughts. Hitt
no longer matters. We have other prey.
Is he c/ead'
No, just hiding. She laughed, almost a
growl in my ear. /'// explain later. Forget about
him. The sea Is filled with other tlsh tonight.
She settled down, coupling, then rocked
gently up and down. Her mucosal neurons_
interfaced with my cutaneous ones. My mind
meshed with hers, our psychic sensorium
expanded. We flew as one over Chalise,
soaring among bright tendrils of thought.
See how many fish?
Our talons plucked only the amber fibrils,
bringing them close to our face. We touched
our tongue to shining filament, tasting fear,
while our nostrils sniffed its acrid scent. We
listened to terrified voices calling to an un-
caring sky. Our eyes traced each filament
back to its source, back to a living mind. The
filaments unraveled there into a dream tap-
estry of a pathetic creature quivering with
fright. There was prey aplenty for dream
Tonight's hunt is finished. Let's save prey
We fell back to our room; our sensorium
contracted to include only our coupled bod-
ies. We made love as one body, finally quiv-
ering with parasympathetic discharge. The
climax could have come from one or both of
us; no matter, it was perceived in unison.
We separated, two minds coalesced out
of one, two bodies close bul untouching.
I watched her eyes roll back, her tongue
dart in and out between her lips.
. I envied her the ability to fall asleep so
quickly, like an innocent animal. I was jeal-
ous of those genes. Sleep did not come as
quickly for me. Her breathing slowed, be-
came deeper and regular. Soon her eyelids
fluttered with fasciculations ol REM be-
neath. She dreamed.
I wished"! could dream her dreams. How
wonderful they must be, from what little she
would tell me: animal dreams -filled with
moving air and warm sunlight and the smells
of Earth. As a pathic gestalt. we could share
our thoughts but for some reason not our
dreams. Perhaps it was for the best. Some
secrets are needed;
Later, I finally dozed. Images rose in my
sleep-lulled brain: A baby suckled content-
edly at his mother's breast, only to open his
eyes and find he was really clinging to a wire
mannequin with a rubber nipple protruding
through the mesh; ghost children argued
over a doll, pudgy hands tugged on plastic
arms and legs until they were disjointed and
the doll's torso and head fell to the ground:
doll's eyes swung back and forth, conjuring
dreams out of their hypnotic rhythm.
I woke with my skin afire. Protons danced
on my body like St. Elmo's fire. I thrashed
about, trying to put out the fire. Risa woke
also. She pinned me down with her hands
and began licking me with her tongue. With
each rough stroke, a little fire was extin-
guished. She started with my face and
worked down my body. Gradually, I relaxed.
You can stop now. It was only a dream.
QHe'd been brave
but stupid. He hadn't been
wired: no hardware
jn his skull, no cameras behind
his eyes, no
bugs in his ears. All his data
were stored in
software. A big mistake.^
Just a little longer. She laughed. / like the
salt in your sweat.
Eventually she was finished. We lay side
by side. "I dreamed again of being alpha-
lashed," I said. 'A spook officer was doing it
to me. I couldn't see her face, but I think it
was Kaly. I was never flogged in the Corps.
They knew better than to try that, so why do
I dream about it? Guilt over deserting?"
"That's the conventional interpretation."
"Because you are afraid of her."
"I suppose." I looked at Risa. "Tell me about
your dreams," I asked.
She closed her eyes. This was a nightly
ritual with us.
" "They're hard to describe. I don't think
they're supposed to be described, because
they originated in nonverbal minds. There
are images — quite vivid — and odors and
scents and tactile sensations."
"Do I ever appear?"
"Sometimes." She laughed. "I pounce on
you and eat you. What do you say to that?"
"I guess that's the best way to be eaten.
Do you ever dream of Colonel Kaly?" Kaly
had been our commander when we were in
the Corps. Now she was looking for us.
"My dreams have forgotten her."
"I wish mine had."
She didn't answer.
Eventually the room lightened with Gany-
mede's artificial dawn. With the shadows
gone, I could sleep undisturbed for a little
while. But night always waited.
Risa began to purr.
We had spent the day in our room making
love, dozing intermittently with the troubled
sleep of nocturnal creatures. Now it was night
again. Our time had come. We shunned
daylight, even the artificial kind. Illusion is
harder to maintain in the light of day.
Risa was a xenohybhd. Her recombinant
DNA had been derived from several bio-
types: cat, dog, bird, insect. I envied her di-
verse ancestry; each species brought along
its own racial memories. She had dreams I
could not imagine. I was an allohybrid; al-
though my DNA was still entirely human, it
had also been blended by genosurgeons.
My dreams were human dreams but not
pleasant ones. I cared too much for Risa to
want her to glimpse my dream-time.
And neither of our dreams were really our
own; our real memories had been wiped out
by psychesurgeons. We had been given
synthetic persona to replace our own — just
the essentials— and a childhood was not
essential. As far as we could remember, we
were born out of the hybertanks. Our lives
began with conscription into the Corps,
I can't remember how many times I'd
asked the chameleon officer who com-
manded us to tell me who I was and what I'd
done to" deserve a hitch in the Corps. Kaly
always refused, laughing, saying it was bet-
ter for morale that I not know.
Do you ever wonder about who you were
before'' I asked Risa, already knowing the
answer. But sometimes words are needed.
How much do you remember?
She hesitated. No more than you. A few
fragments, a few bad dreams. A few
glimpses of a place on Earth where I once
must have lived. I think I must have killed
someone once. Why, t don't know. But a face
sometimes bothers me in dreams. Not often
now. Usually my dreams are quite pleasant.
You don't want to know more?
Not now. That self no longer matters be-
cause I am no longer her and can never be
her again. I don't have to be sorry for what
she did. I don't have to feel guilty for her
crimes. I'm someone else now. I have an-
other past with different ancestors. I have
dreams of soaring in the air, prowling in the
moonlight, stalking prey, mating with un-
Is that enough?
It's enough forme. My animal genes have
brought dreams enough. I have better in-
stincts now. From my cat genes.
What do your cat genes tell you to do now?
They make me want to prowl at night. She
leap! from the bed and landed lightly on the
windowsill across the room, balancing her-
sell in front of the window. Her eyes watched
CONTINUED ON PAGE 9B
BY JUDITH HOOPER
rf'S,,..^."',,.,. .„•>•""' B he eyes ot the Voyager and Pio-
■neet' saw' the orange lava plains and blue geysers of k> and the
■ -dazzling aurora effect created by lightning bolts on Jupiter. But no
spacecraft will ever'capture the image of a moonrise over a molten
lakefront ot Earth 3.8 billion years ago (above). Don Davis does.
•As long as time travel is impossible, informed
artistic speculations will be our eyes and ears3
"I am sure thai lime travel is as impossible as fasfer-than-light
travel." says Davis. "As long as this is true, informed artislic
speculation will play a big part in our attempls to see the won-
ders ol the universe." Maybe the only tachyons in this universe
lie in the human mind. In any case. Davis has traveled back in
time to witness the volcanic genesis ol mountain ranges and
seas on early Earth (below) and gone forward to view the halt-
illumined planel Irom a solar-powered satellite (below, right).
His inner eye has witnessed such alien wonders as a lunar land-
scape under pale earthlighl (above, right). Unlike photographs.
Davis's spacescapes are full of stars. "They are too dim to ex-
pose on film, bui they are visible to an observer." he explains.
"The idea is to synthesize a view a Hu-
man would have." he points out. If that
human lived in a Gerard O'Neill-style
space colony of the future, he might
view a terrene, eclipse of the sun
through a prism of condensation
clouds (above, left). And if he time-
traveled 4 billion years into the past
and surveyed the primitive, vapor-
ringed Earth from (he far side of the
moon (at the precise moment of a me-
teor impacl). his perspective of this
speciacuiar event might well resem-
ble Ihe painting ai right DO
•If a person could travel backward In time 4 billion years
and stand on the moon, what do you think he would see?*'
"Please don't do this."
"I'm going to dismantle your library piece
by piece, you disgusting little clerk. Then 111
call everyone I know and expose you. See
ii I'm afraid of the CIA." ■
"It's not the CIA." ■
"I'm not afraid of anything 1 " Francine said.
"You people hide in the dark, you make your
little threats. But when you're exposed, you're
nothing — "
Who would have thought there to be so
much passion in her? Three dates, three
casual fucks, some dinners, a walk on the
piers, one concert, an unfortunate confes-
sion, and Ihen all of this. She had reacted as
if I were an assassin.
"It must be being surrounded by all of the
dying,""! said to her, trying to be reasonable.
"Yes, that would explain it, that would ex-
plain the rage. But I'm just a victim, too, Fran-
cine. I do what they tell me."
"That's the great line of our age; 'Don't
bother me, I just work here.' "
She seized two binders this time and
kicked one across the room. The heavy im-
pact of her little shoe caused the reinforce-
ment to break. Pages spewed from a height,
settled unevenly on the floor like nesting
birds. I endeavored up to this point— as must
be clear— to be reasonable. I am a reason-
But I am afraid that at this moment I lost
control of myself.
A description of the events of the next hour
or so is not necessary. That description would
be too painful, albeit truly humbling, but I
can say that I was brought to realize the in-
ner, substantial truth of that which I had writ-
ten in a group of documents to be found in
a warehouse in Amman during the invasion
of 1991: "One truly does not know the meas-
ure of the man until one has been tested by
the invader. One truly does not know the
running of the beast, the stalking of all the
steps, until one has heard the heartbeat of
the self. One never truly knows, then, until
one knows, and not an instant before."
It was a formative experience, let me say
that, also quite painful. At length I found my-
self at the desk of my supervisor. It was an
emergency appointment, but the agency
makes it clear in the Career & Salary Plan
manual: Normal procedures may be over-
ridden in case of serious difficulty. I was in
serious difficulty One must never operate
conventionally in our terrain, not after what I
had done. What ! had done. I am afraid that
I was rather out of control. I sobbed. I wrung
my hands. The supervisor listened quietly to
the recapitulation and coda, then made a
call. "We will have operatives there immedi-
ately," he said. "Are you sure the scene was
"It was when I left."
"Stop your sniveling. You know that won't
get you anywhere. You are positive that
there were no witnesses? No one around?"
"Yes," I said, sighing deeply, heaving; "Yes,
I am quite sure."
"And it was accomplished just as quietly
as you say 7 There were no undue sounds 7 "
"No, there were not." I tried to hold back
the sobbing but could not. "I did care for
her," I said. "She was very nice at the begin-
ning. I thought we had a real relationship. I
felt that I could tell her things. Maybe it was
because she worked with dying people. It
was only later that it got dreadful. I made a
"Oh, yes, you did," the supervisor said.
"Oh, yes indeed, you did." I would engage
in characterological description here, but like
all of them, like me on the job, he was
masked. His voice was without affect. It is
important to remember that there is nothing
personal in all of this. "You made a terrible,
a stupid mistake," he said, "but now you'll
know better, won't you 7 "
"You understand why these jobs must be
"Oh, yes," I said, "I know that now."
His eyes were kindly but nonetheless cold.
Impenetrable even. Something like the
agency prose itself. "Yes," I said, "I under-
stand that now and much else."
"You were really quite stupid, and you will
have to pay the price for that stupidity."
The supervisor stared at me. "The job?"
he said. "That's the last thing. We wouldn't
even ask your life."
"I want my job."
"The siiuation, however, is manageable.
It's a little tricky, but we've had worse. You
knew her fairly well, of course?"
"Of course. Excep! that I misjudged her
terribly at the end."
"It's too late to think of that. Draft a state-
"Right here and now. A credible suicide
note that can be found with the corpse. Don't
worry about the strangulation; cyanosis can
occur for lots of reasons, and there are ways
around it. But then there's the note. It has to
be right. I assume you can take care of it.
There isn't much time."
"I can take care of it," I said gratefully,
seeing for the first time (but I could have de-
duced it earlier!) a way out. "Yes, that
shouldn't be too hard."
"It's Sunday," the supervisor said, "and also
I would prefer to play this very close. I would
prefer to keep it in the family. I would .prefer
notto call in the domestic division."
There are seven reasons, and of them all
only the seventh counts: to take testimony,
to leave testimony, to make a difference.
Hence Ihe library and hence the note to be "
left beside you, my love.
■ / am sorry, Francine. Had you but under-
stood, it could have been different. Had I but
understood, you might have been with me
yet. We do what we must do, and we know
none other. The secret, the document itself ,
is my We. DO
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 22
of iuture language is its ability to influence
the way that we think. In 7984, for example,
George Orwell prophetically demonstrated
that a language developed and imple-
mented by the state would serve to control
the population at large. If all the words that
describe subversive acts are eradicated, he
purported, then successive generations be-
come incapable of thinking subversively. In
the words of one of the characters in the
book; "Every year fewer and fewer words,
and the range of consciousness always a
little smaller. ... In the end we shall make
thoughtcri—e literally impossible."
Orwell did not develop Newspeak as a
central feature of his novel. The characters
seldom use ii, and the vocabulary is not ex-
plored in detail. Still, il clearly demonstrates
that language no! only reflects changes in
the future but also creates them.
In a very different novel, The Embedding,
writer Ian Watson has taken this principle
considerably further, implying that a new
language cou c actually bi. id a new reality.
Moreover, whereas O f wol! = Newspeak crip-
ples human freedom, Watson's conception
ol a "synthetic language" serves the oppo-
site function: II liberates the speaker from
the preconceptions imposed by traditional,
The Embedding describes Ihree social
groups: children who have been raised in a
laboratory environment, speaking a syn-
thetic language: a Soulh American tribe
whose unique language in some way en-
ables tribe members to transcend them-
selves; and alien creatures, whose emissary
explains, "The mind's concepts of reality [are]
based on the environment it has evolved
in. . . . We mean to put all these different
viewpoints together, to deduce the entire
signature of This-Reality. From this knowl-
edge we shall deduce the reality modes ex-
ternal to it— grasp the Other-Reality, com-
municatewith it, control It!"
Ultimately, all three groups overcome the
limitations of what we normally consider
possible. Because language enables these
groups to perceive their worlds differently,
the realities they experience have laws that
are very different from our own.
Exploring language is one of the more in-
teresting challenges in science fiction. Yet,
even now,' relatively few writers attempt it.
It's not surprising that most science-liction
writers include just a smattering of jargon, to
give the impression of future language. The
reason is clear enough: Inventing a lan-
guage that is both comprehensible and
plausible is one of the most difficult chal-
lenges a writer can face. And because it's
impossible to predict how language will de- .
velop, a writer's time may be better spent
thinking about science, soc'clogy, and other
elements that can be plausibly extrapo-
lated. Most readers, after all, seem willing to
accept worlds of the future described in lan-
guage ot the present. DO
■ hen we published Omni's „-,.
■ sixth-anniversary Delphic experts cons
I Poll questionnaire last Oc- ideas to be too
thought we knew what to ex- (
. will be ;
Almost surely before 2040.''
i puter technology and
k, and play— would be ample: When will most homes have do- tior
Omni's readers have their mestic robots? Nearly 40 percent of '"
eyes on the future, are knowledgeable readers expected mechanical servants
in the ways of science, and are unafraid by the year 2020, while one in four opted
to follow where new technologies lead, for the following two decades. space shuttle? Only one sixth of our
theyseemedtheperfectgrouptotapfor "After the year 2000 for sure," de- readers thought such trips would be
bold predictions about what the future dared computer consultant Carl Hel- possible by the turn of the century. But
will bring and when it will happen. mers, editorof Robotics Age magazine, according to G. Harry Stine, a former
But some of the results of our second "For a robot to do anything useful takes NASA engineer who has : ~- ■'
Deiphic Poll (we conducted the first one more power than today's batteries can agency-sponsored studies ol
in 1978) surprised even us. in many in- supply. People haven't even figured out dustry,
" " is proved what tht
is solved and Brown, of the H
, i . : : ,• mKUMA TAKEGAMI
^ s r /■ ¥—4*
/ ■ ■
all the marketing for NASA." he says. "His
work suggests that tourism will be the big-
gest of all space industries. All it takes is (he
decision to go ahead."
What about weiglilk-::^ snorts? "Ten to fif-
teen years," Stine believes. "Chances are that
it will be something like water polo without
the water." By comparison, nearly all the
readers picked the next century, and almost
12 percent believed that space sports would
remain the stuff ot science fiction.
Interestingly, only the most conservative
readers doubted that one popular contact
sport — baby making — would make the as-
cent into space. But again the majority of
Omni forecasters put (he happy event tar off
into the future. Fully two thirds predicted that
' a child will be born in space by the year 2040;
only 17 percent opted for this century. Stine's
verdict: "anytime we have a man and woman
in space in the right circumstances— most
likely within filteen years."
On other space questions, estimates var-
ied widely When will people walk on Mars?
In our 1978 poll, the median date was 1992.
This time around, one in five expected a Mars
landing in this century, but 43 percent put
the date between 2000 and 2020. Only 2
percent said it would never happen — the
fewest "no" votes in the survey.
On this question, though, the optimists may
be wrong. Space scientist Carol Stoker, who
has chaired two professional conferences on
the subject, estimates that the establish-
ment of a permanent Mars base is possible
before the year 2020 but only if we get started
within the next five years. NASA now pro-
jects a Mars base by 2035.
By comparison, establishing a moon base
sounds easy. But only 8 in 100 readers ex-
pected to see a lunar colony in this century.
NASA administrator James Beggs agrees.
The moon-base constituency, he says, is too
small to win government funding. NASA now
foresees a lunar base around 2010.
When will we meet intelligent beings from
space? One Omni reader in four picked the
next 35 years, but just as many held out for
the twenty-second century or later, and 13
percent said it would never happen. That
came as a surprise, since in 1978 only 5 per-
cent had.no hope of meeting intelligent
beings from space. The experts held that all
guesses are equally valid.
Our poll drew many letters explaining
people's answers, and more than half dealt
with the question of meeting E.T. Many let-
ters were of the UFOs-are-al ready-here va-
riety. A few responses were surprisingly
elaborate. One reader forecast that in 90.
years or so, gentle, friendly-seeming aliens
would arrive but would turn out to be hostile
and have to be driven from our solar system.
Shortly thereafter, we would meet fierce-
looking aliens who were actually gentle and
well-meaning. But they, too, would be driven
away. 'The experts, by contrast, did not go
into any detailed scenarios..
Some of the hardest questions to answer
dealt with issues in which human elements
and not technology would affect the future.
Thus, we do not know when someone will
open a church for the worship of technology,
when telepathy classes will become corn-
mom or when the superpowers will unite to
destroy a comet that threatens the earth. Yet
the answer to one important question proved
unarguable. Soccer, most readers held, will
never win more U.S. fans than football.
Unexpectedly, some hard science, and
technological developments proved as dif-
ficult to forecast as social issues, and for the
same reason — they depend on human fac-
tors. More than hat our readers said that
physics will confirm a unified field theory no
later than 2040. with most settling on the first
two decades of the twenty-first century. Yet
the physicists themselves made comments
on the order of, "It requires a conceptual
breakthrough that you can't predict. Twenty
to thirty years is not a bad guess, but it could
be announced next week."
Biomedicine, in contrast, seemed rela-
tively easy to forecast. In most cases, read-
ers' and experts' opinions matched. Fully 45
percent of the readers believe we'll see the
be able to vacation on the
, within the next ten years,
say the experts.
The marketing for it is
it needs is the go-ahead}
last of measles and whooping cough within
35 years. For an expert opinion, we went to
Dr. William Regeson. professor of medicine
at the Medical College- ot Virginia. As former
head of FIBER, a now-defunct iund for inte-
grated biomedical research, he has kept
tabs on a wide variety of medical fields, in-
cluding genetics, aging, and the regenera-
tion of lost limbs. "The medical techniques
we need to eliminate the major childhood
diseases are within reach," he says. "How
long it will take depends on how hard we
push. We could do it in thirty years,"
Readers and experts also agree that
cloning will never replace traditional repro-
duction, but as to when cloning would be
done, opinions varied widely. One reader in
five believed a person would be cloned by
the year 2000; 26 percent more picked the
first two decades of the new century. This
was markedly later than the 1978 poll fore-
cast; then the consensus called for a clone
in the late Eighties.
Physicians put the date much further away.
Dr. Regelson' summed up their position:
"Technically, it couid happen anytime some-
one really puts his mind to it." he says. "The
reason would not be to duplicate some ego-
tist but to provide spare parts to repair the
heart, brain, and other organs. I personally
do not believe it will ever happen. The ethi-
cal problems are just too big."
How soon will we implant an artificial gene
into the embryo to prevent viral infections in
later life? According to Dr. Regelson, who is
himself studying ways to ward off viral infec-
tions, some such process should be avail-
able in five to ten years. "It will not involve
genetic engineering," he adds. "Instead, it
will come from work on control of the im-
mune system." Readers' opinions varied, but
most forecast a later date.
When will it be possible to regrow lost
limbs and internal organs? Dr. Robert O.
Becker, then with the Syracuse (New York)
Veterans Administration Hospital, took the
first step nearly 15 years ago. when he found
that electromagnetic fields could help a rat
regrow much of an amputated foreleg. Other
researchers are now working in this area, but
they say they will need 25 to 30 years before
they can replace human organs— about
what readers expected.
One question uncovered a dramatic con-
flict: When wi.l alternatives to plastic surgery
resculpt the human body without scalpel or
pain? The most popular choices fell into the
first half of the twenty-first century. Physi-
cians, however, didn't believe such a tech-
nique would ever be developed. "There's no
way to reshape a large mass of flesh without
cutting it," says Regelson.
Most surprising were several biomedical
questions that experts answered far less
conservatively than Omni readers did. For
example: When will the average human life
expectancy top 100 years? About half our
readers picked the first 40 years of the
twenty-first century, and a startling 16 per-
cent either held out for the twenty-second
century or said the average human life would
never exceed 100 years. But Regelson.
whose FIBER fund supported much of the
needed research, thinks it will happen within
the next 15 years. "Several developments
could be in use in two or three years if only
more money were available for this work."
When will we be able to cure most forms
of cancer? Half our readers thought that
would come between the years 2000 and
2040; only 15 percent agreed with the ex-
perts — within this century. "The bulk of it will
be out of business in ten years," one cancer
What about drugs to speed learning? One
reader in five agreed with the experts — be-
fore the year 2000 — but even they were too
cautious. Drugs that can boost learning and
memory already exist. For example, there is
a potent memory aid, a hormone called va-
sopressin, now available by prescription.
in all, our second Delphic Poll predicts a
dramatically different world in the next sev-
eral decades. Those changes, which will ri-
val the techno ogical upheaval of the early
twentieth century, are likely to both amaze
and confuse a large number of people. But
if our poll is right, it's safe to say, Omni read-
ers won't be among the surprised. DO
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 20
the people around them. "This sense of con-
nectedness," says Wood, "wins loyalty. It will
reverberate throughout the organization,
changing its structure and tone and making
it more efficient and productive."
, It is these last two qualities that are most
likely to catch the eye of the American busi-
nessman. Margaret Hennig, oi Simmons
College Graduate School of Management
and coauthor of The Managerial Woman,
sees similarities between the Japanese-style
corporation and women's approach to busi-
ness. 'American business is looking at the
Japanese workplace because of increased
worker cooperation and productivity," says
Hennig. "Over the next ten years, more and
more women will be put into management
for just those reasons."
According to Hennig, there may be addi-
tional benefits. "If we go back to the story
about the husband and wife and the drugs
and think ol it in terms of a management de-
cision," argues Hennig, "what we see in the
girls' responses is a sophisticated, concep-
tual approach to problem solving."
Not only has the girl, and presumably the
female manager who uses this approach, a
better chance of coming up with a solution
acceptable to more people, she is more likely ■
to come up with a better solution simply by
considering more of them.
Hennig believes the woman's approach
will' benefit other fields as well, especially
politics, where negotiation and compromise
are daily requirements. Her idea oi a "Gtlli-
gan woman" is Geraldine Ferraro. "Ferraro
is a woman who understands who she is and
where the world is at," says Hennig. "She
realizes it is better to compromise and do
what she can than to be shut out" because
she beats on everyone with a stick."
Put enough of these kinds of women in
positions of power — so the hope goes — and
perhaps even the threat of nuclear war will
be lessened. "Woman's style of moral rea-
soning has become a political necessity for
the preservation of the world," contends
psychologist Dorothy Austin, of Cambridge
Hospital, who is studying the effects that the
threat of nuclear war has on daily life.
Not all women, however, are Gilligan
women. One has only to look at Britain's
prime minister Margaret Thatcher to realize
that. Hennig calls Thatcher a "queen bee,"
the rare woman who is so confident and self-
protective that she can make it in spite of it
being a man's world. The queen bee, says
Hennig, is a critical step in the process of
getting more women into power positions
both in the world of politics and business.
On the other end of the spectrum are the
.women who care about everyone but them-
selves. These women, says Gilligan, have
yet. to learn that responsible caring begins
with the self. These are the women who feel
they can never do enough for their hus-
bands, their children, or their bosses,
"Women have been sold this bill of goods
that if they care for themselves at the cost of
others, they should be consumed with guilt,"
says Hennig. Such an attitude leads to lack
of self-esteem, confidence, and assertive-
ness on the job. It may also help explain why
women are more prone than men to be mas-
ochistic and to sufter from such psycholog-
ical disorders as depression.
It is necessary to encourage the devel-
opment of well-balanced women who can
maintain their moral approach, be effective
in the workplace, and even help men gain a
new perspective. To do this, says Hennig,
"teachers and parents must change their
underlying assumptions about girls; they
must learn to encourage girls to expect more
of themselves, and most important, to value
their own viewpoints."
That support had better come early, Gilli-
gan has found that as girls enter their teens,
they become increasingly vulnerable to so-
ciety's attitudes. 'At about age twelve," Gil-
ligan says, "girls begin to become aware that
bringing in their own values is going to cause
trouble. So they start waiting and watching
other people for clues as to what their values
should be." The result: By their mid-teens
many girls have abandoned their own ap-
proach to moral reasoning and taken on the
accepted — male — norm. DO
to read between the
at the screen, where matics building and it he looked at his
black lines and num- out info the cold. watch: two -thirty. No
■■■■■■■■ ""> campus
Turf. The final equa- was in sight. He heard the winding
" id turned, ~*
; had proaching.
. He "How long has that \.. a ....
•-—i there?" empty. H
tree's that?" out thinking of which
equation that had Ihe
When the Judson, and back to He felt as if he had
is finished, the tree. "Longer than been gone a long time,
he collected I "
qry and tired enough leaves go, it changes, roorr
udson started to ghan, was sitting on
ask what month it was, the couch.
Dazed with fatigue, but he bit the question "I'm home," he
he left the laboratory, back and said good staring at her. She \
walked down the si- night instead, and tried prettier than he
PAINTING BY BEN SCHONZEIT
membered. Her hair was turning from gold
to a light brown, nicer this way. and her eyes
were bluer than he remembered, larger and,
now at least, meaner.
"Me, too," she said, and turned back to
"Are you mad at me?" ■
"Of course not. Last .week 1 told you I was
leaving, running away with another, man, and
you know what you said? 'That's fine, honey.
Whatever you want.' And you haven't said a
real thing to me since. You haven't asked
abdut our daughter, or the lawsuit, or the
mortgage payments, or the leak in the bath-
■ " "Good God! What daughter?"
She sighed and stood up. "Have you eat-
en anything these last few days? Have you
"I don't know. I don't remember. Millie,
you're kidding me, aren't you?"
"I'm kidding. Scrambled eggs? Are you
finished with the new theory? Is that why I'm
"Millie, it's ... I have to call the President
"Like Chicken Little?"
"But the sky is tailing 1 ."
"With or without cheese and onions?"
He followed her into the kitchen; she took
his hand and led him to a stool al the counter,
pushed him down onto it. When she put a
glass of milk before him. he tasted it as it he
never had seen anyTbng ike il before.
"Time's slowing down, Millie."
She broke an egg into a bowl.
"I couldn't believe it at first, I've checked
everything a dozen tmes. It's slowing down."
She broke another egg. "There is no such
thing as time." She cracked the third egg.
"Did you leave your coat at school?"
He looked down at himself. That's why he
had been so cold. "It's slowing down at an
accelerating rate, and there's nothing- we can
do about it!"
She stirred the eggs gently. "Time is an
abstract concept thai we invented in order
to talk about change and duration," She
added cheese and onions to the eggs, put
butter in the skillet, and watched until it
started to sizzle, then added the egg mix-
ture. "Time," she said then, "has no inde-
pendent existence of its own. Change can
happen faster or slower, butthereisnosuch
thing as time that can change its own rate of
"And when it slows down enough," Jud-
son said glumly, "it's going to stop alto-
She put bread in the toaster and got out
jam. "We invented-time, in order to ialk about
seasons, physical change, growing old, and
dying." The eggs were done at the same
time the toast popped. It always amazed hirn
that she knew to the second how long things
took to get done. She never even glanced at
a clock when she cooked. Instincts, he
thought uneasily; it had nothing to do with
She put the food before him. "If there are
no events, there is no time. Time is incon-
ceivable without events that- change, that
evolve. It doesn't exist except as a figure of
speech. Like 'time is of the essence.' Es-
sence of what? Another figure of speech."
"With the mainframe I'll be able to predict
exactly when it will stop," he said, and be-
gan to. eat.
"Darling, just tell me one thing. Did you
use the square root of minus one to get your
He nodded, his mouth too full to speak.
She smiled, broke off a piece of his toast,
and nibbled it.
"You shouldn't have waited up," he said
stiffly as soon as he could.
"I wanted to. I knew you'd come home
eventually, hungry, tired, cold. Besides, I can
sleep in tomorrow morn'ng Saturday, you
know. No classes." She taught medieval
"Of course I know."
Which Saturday? he wondered. He
glanced over his shoulder at the calendar
fatigue, he left the laboratory.
abruptly. There was a bare
tree breaking up
the light from a corner
heard footsteps and turned.^
and saw that October was displayed.
"The twenty-eighth, "she said kindly. "This
is the weekend that we change time. Do we
set the clocks back or forward? I never re-
"You don't .have to make fun of me," he
said even more stiffly.
She put her arms around him and kissed
his cheek. "I love you," she said.
Icy rains came, then snow and more ice,
then warmer rain that washed it all away. The
trees were enveloped in a pale-green haze
that turned into a dense canopy casting
green light, golden and red light, and be-
came bare limbs that broke up the pale illu-
mination from the streetlamp.
"You're going to be bored," Judson said
as he settled down next to Millie in the main
auditorium of the conference center. "Duk-
-weiler's a bore even to me."
"I wouLdn't have missed this for anything."
"Did you really listen to me up there when
I was giving my paper?"
"You know I did. You talked about epsilon
and alpha and omega, and there were those
infinity signs here and there on the black-
board, and then you multiplied everything
by the square root of minus one, and the
audience applauded. You were absolutely
"I've had good comments already, They're
going over the figures with everything from
hard calcu siors :o The mainframe."
"I told you not to worry. Of course they'll
Dukweiler was introduced and started to
read his paper. He wrote down numbers and
symbols on the board as he talked. He was
an arid speaker, obviously too nervous even
to glance at the audience. His presentation
was too fast for Judson to follow and do the
numbers at the same time.
Judson felt a chill midway through and
leaned forward intently. When Dukweiler had
finished, Judson turned to Millie. "Did you
hear that? Do you realize what that idiot is
"It sounded a lot like your paper, all those
epsiions and alphas and omegas, and then
he multiplied — "
"I know what he did!"
"He thinks time is speeding up?"
"I can refute his findings!"
She picked up her knitting. "I think those
men are coming to talk to you. I'll wait here."
He left her and walked to the rear of the
auditorium. A surge oi attendees rushed lor
the podium, and another group of people
moved slowly in his direction, some speak-
ing in low voices, some frowning in thought,
a few working their calculators methodically
as they walked. Half and half, he thought with
satisfaction, and he tried to see who had
lined up in the enemy camp. He nodded to
Whitcombe; who was the first to reach him.
As others drew near, they spoke in meas-
ured tones, choosing words carefully, and
they were solidly on his side; they had been 1
convinced by his proofs, by his rigorous
logic. It was an hoscapable conclusion, they
agreed; time certainly was slowing down,
and a situation was developing that would
prove to be. of the utmost gravity.
Finally the groups began to disperse; it
was cocktail time. The gang at the podium
led the way to the bar in a near-stampede;
the other group followed more leisurely.
When Judson freed himself, he looked at
Millie, calmly knitting with a slight smile on
her face. It was just as well that she did not
realize the seriousness of the time problem,
he thought with a flash of tenderness.
"Will we experience anything differently?"
she had asked.
"Relative to what?"
"Ah well," she had said. "Nine months will
still seem like nine months." And just like that
she had dismissed one of the great mys-
teries of the universe.
"Judson," Whitcombe drawled at his el-
bow. "We'll be sending you an invitation to
speak down at Texas A&M. Have to get to-
gether about the best time before all this
Judson nodded. A life's work lay ahead of
him, more than one lifetime. He smiled at
Whitcombe. "Happy to come down," he said,
"if I can find the iime.'"DO
bA malevolent race of
aliens might use visiting species
as pets or food '.9
The concept of the
starship has been with
us for almost a cen-
tury. Bui in the end. we
may not need such
craft to traverse the
vastness of interstel-
lar space. Instead of
literally traveling to the
stars, machinery in
tow. we may be able
to transmit radio
waves coded with the
blueprints for all ter-
restrial life, including
man. These waves,
describing both our
genetic code and our
technology, would be
received by our alien
neighbors and trans-
lated into physical
form on alien shores.
The merit of send-
ing such messages—
in essence, the cyber-
netic seed of human-
ity — becomes clear when we examine the complexity of
starflight. The classic scenarios call for interstellar arks: vast,
mobile space colonies powered by fusion or some other
exotic energy force. These ships would cruise the cosmos
for generations, their passengers living and dying en route
More modem concepts shrink the size of the ships by send-
ing the colonists as frozen embryos capable of gestating in
artificial wombs just before arrival After the landing, spe-
cially programmed robots would raise these individuals to
adulthood and create an earthlike civilization.
But even this advanced colony carries potentially fatal
disadvantages. It can't accelerate beyond a fraction of the
speed of light and could become hopelessly lost, suffer a
disabling accident along the way, or fail to grow and thrive
at its specified destination.
The cybernetic-seed approach, by contrast, avoids most
of these difficulties. The encoded information, sent by radio
transmitters, would travel indefinitely and could not be de-
strayed by accident.
There would be no
need for advanced
propulsion systems or
sive spacecraft. And
our settlers would be
aided by technically
who could negotiate
the difficulties at hand.
Any form of inter-
stellar flight eould
pose problems; A
malevolent alien race
might reconstruct vis-
iting species, only lo
breed them as pets
or for food. An extra-
might alter the ge-
netic structure of the
colony, creating bi-
creatures for tests in a
lab. And cosmic war-
riors might master a
species' technology in hopes of invading the home planet
But despite the dangers, it's far too late to hide from the
stars. Our Earth — warm, green, and rich in oxygen — has
been visible to advanced societies for billions of years. Our
/ Love Lucy broadcasts are already several light-decades
into the cosmos. If we don't traverse the cosmos in search
of others, they may well come to us.
Technically sophisticated civilizations, in fact, may even
now be beaming their signals to Earth Our radio telescopes
are currently scanning the heavens for messages !i :
stars. Once we receive them, we may discover r .:.
codes for the beings that sent them tn time, we might be
able to reconstruct these aliens, establishing them in nearby
space colonies of their own.
Discovery of a cybernetic seed could explain why aliens
have never been found. Perhaps they're already here, hid-
den in the crests and troughs of a radio wave, beams of
potential waiting to be aroused.— T. A HEPPENHE'MER
If there is a symbol for
scientific quackery, it is the
perpetual- motion machine A
device ihal supposedly
produces more power than it
consumes, this bogus piece
Of equipment would, i! it.
really worked, solve all our
energy woes, breaking
accepted laws of physics in
Despite these facts,
though, a Los Angeles jury
recently acquitted two men
who raised hundreds of
thousands of dollars from
investors backing such
a machine (pictured above).
Last August, after a three-
month trial and more than two
weeks of deliberation, the
jury found self-styled inventor
Karl Aegerter and attorney
Jackson Chandler innocent of
more lhan 50 counts of
theft, securities fraud, and
conspiracy. The reason? The
Jury actually believed that
the machine worked.
"The jurors told me they
believed this machine pro-
duces more energy than
goes into it," Deputy District
Attorney James Green ex-
plains. "They though! the two.
defendants were great and
even had a party for them
after the trial ended. I'd be
very, very surprised," he
adds, "if one or more of the
jurors didn't invest money
of their own."
According lo Green, the
disputed machine Is a "com-
that turns a sort of pinwheel
For every five horsepower
you get out of it," he says,
"you have to put one hun-
dred, horsepower in"
But Aegerter has a different
explanation "To put it basi-
cally," he says, "its. a rotational
mass that produces an
field." In the near future,
he adds, he plans to demon-
strate the machine's revolu-
tionary properties at a press
His codelendant. Chandler,
refused to be interviewed.
— Eric Mishara
A couple ot ranchers were
rounding up some stray
cows m north-central Wash-
ington State last October
when they discovered a gianl
divot of soil and the hole it
obviously Game from. Geolo-
gists called to the scene—
a Ireeless, boulder-strewn
plateau on theColville Indian
Reservation — soon
announced that the pear-
shaped divot weighed three
tons and that it had been
catapulted some 73 feet But
what had caused the disrup-
tion they could not say.
The hole, with its vertical
walls and nearly flat bottom,
looked like it had been
sheared with a giant cookie
cutter, says reservation
geologist Bill Utterback.
Roots dangled from the walls
of the hole, suggesting the
divot had been ripped from
the ground Yet the grass
around the hole bore no
tracks of a bulldozer or any
other earthly machinery
It gave me an eerie feeling.'
Utterback says. "The divot
could have been moved by a
helicopter or even a UFO —
I certainly didn't have any
But geologist Greg Beh-
of Reclamation, does. A small
earthquake occurred last
October 9, nine days before
the divot was discovered,
Gehrens explains. The soil
there covers a shallow bed-
rock basin, and the basin
mtght have captured the
earth's modest force
fymg it inio a series of power-
ful, concenlric shock waves
The shock waves may have
converged al the divot and
popped it skyward.
his theory is a guess at
best. "All we know ir 1
he says, "is that this piece of
earth moved seven 1 .
feet away from the he
came out of " — Em: ■'.
Tfle highest purpose rs to
have no purpose at all.'
When Elvis Presley died on
August 16, 1977. a multimil-
lion-dollar industry was born.
Legions of loyal fans plunked
down [heir money for every-
thing from jerseys decorated
with the Elvis Image to Elvis
Presley commemorative bell
buckles, To recapture El vis's
stage presence, fans even
crowded nightclubs to watch
imitators perform the late
rock king's hit songs.
One such imitator, enter-
tainer Doug Maclntyre, ol
now believes he's'been
influenced by the spirit of
Elvis himself. Not long ago,
while Maclntyre did his Elvis
routine at a night spot near
Boston, his picture was taken
by professional photogra-
pher Jane O'Melia When the
film was developed, one
frame showed two ghostly
faces hovering over Mac-
lntyre in an eerie cloud of red
smoke. Tfie faces, the pho-
tographet claims, bear a
striking resemblance to Elvis
"I have no logical explana-
tion lor whai happened,"
O'Melia says "The camera
wasn't malfunctioning, and as
far as I know, the film was
good. It's the most urn
photograph I've eve 1
"The spirit of Elvis was
watching over me thai night."
foriy-eight. says. "Only I
didn't know it at the time I
honestly have no idea why
this happened, but r :
have told me that i n
ally linked wjth Elvis and
that this wiii definite!
again " — Eric Mishara
"All ot a sudden I 0h
thing I shouldn't have I
laughed. And I have one ol
these very loud, stupid
— ,J D
"Sex Is a playground tor
lonely scientists "
Humans, dinosaurs, ana
mastodons all walke
earth at the dawn ol
over4,000 years ag
al least, is the claim of Culten
Davis, a millionaire and
ForfWorth, Texas. Cullen and
his collaborators are s
up. in fact, that they have
raised $5.5 million to build the
Creation Evidences Museum
under construction hear the
Paluxy River, in Glen Rose.
Texas. The Structure, to be a
showcase tor "hard, physical
proof" of the Bible, wili be
the exact size and shape of
Noah's ark as described
by the holy book.
"Our evidence will devas-
tate the modern theory of
evolution says museum di-
rector Carl E Baugh, a
Missouri minister who has
done postgraduate work in
archaeology and anthropol-
ogy. The museum will con-
tain, for instance, a hyperbolic
chamber thai re-creates
the earth's atmosphere as
the creationists believe it
existed before the great flood.
"The greenhouse effect
was more pronounced back
then." says Baugh. who
claims it created an atmos-
pheric pressure more than
twice as greai as that .existing
today "Experiments have
proved," he adds, "that lungs
operate at maximum effi-
ciency al greater air pressure.
Gargantuan tile forms can
be supported, and we'll
breed exotic lite forms tike-
Bengal tigers to see the
Another notable exhibit will
show dinosaur tracks, large
rai Hacks, and human foot-
prints all in the same layer of
limestone, proving, says
Baugh. that they all existed at
the- same time. Yei anplher
display will feature an iron
hammer encased in solid
Stone According to standard
dating methods. Baugh
says the hammer is 434 mil-
lion years old. which is im-
possible since Homo sapiens
have been around for lewer
than 1 million years. "We
think the dating methods are
faulty," he adds "and that
the hammer is just four thou-
sand years old and was
impacted into the stone dur-
ing the flood "
Baugh also claims to have
excavated a 17-foof-tall
dinosaur lhal died in the del-
uge. While all previous dino-
saur remains consist of
fossilized stone, this dinosaur;
he says, still has some car-
bonaceous material in the
stomach "For the first time in
history, we have a dinosaur
that can be carbon- dated."
he says, "And we are sure it
will prove to be fewer than
live thousand years old,"
Dahl, of the Yerkes Primate
Center, in Atlanta, doesn't buy
Baugh's claims. "The crea-
tionists question most ac-
cepted methods ol scientific
dating, ' he says. "So their
arguments are rather circular.
Anybody can claim anything.
We have an incredibly de-
tailed amount of fossil evi-
dence from the dinosaur era.
buf there's absolutely ho
indication that humans were
around " — Sherry Baker
"With difficulty I call to reality,
like 3 dog. and I too howl. "
— Pablo Neruda
"Pain engraves a deeper
During the Brazilian gold
rush of the Thirties, people
from French Guiana made
their way south, eventually
settling in the Amazon delta
city of Macapa. When Brazil-
ian anthropologist Julieta
de Andrade. discovered the
group In 1979. she was
amazed to learn that they
had developed a new, previ-
ously unknown language,
De Andrade, vice president
of the Sao Paulo Folklore
Museum soon set out to
study the group, hoping to
charl a language that had
evolved in fewer than 30
years. The original French-
sounding dialect, she found,
had melded with both Portu-
guese and English ■
in Lanc-Patua a language
complete with a syntax,
accent, and vocabulary of its
own. Although the new
tongue has spawned no liter-
ature. De Andrade -.
a written language The
25,000 people who speak
Lanc-Patua write letters
to one another, dealing a
network that spans some
1,200 square miles
Those 25,000 peqple, she
notes, are unusual not only
lor Iheir language but for their
eccentric social customs
as well. For example, they
rarely tell Outsiders their real
names. 'And though they
are very friendly people, " De
Andrade says, "they are
guided by superstitions of a
mystical, voodoo origin "
And when a family member
dies. De Andrade points
out, the rest of the family ig-
nores the wake, which is held
by friends, Instead, thev
light candles and play domi-
noes for eight days
straight.— Sherry Baker
"As above, so below "
— Hermes Tnsmegistos
Early in 1978 magician
James "The Amazm-.
(below) launched on
alpha. One ol the most widely
publicized hoaxes ever
perpetrated by the foes of
starred two teenage magi-
cians who infiltrated i
mentsat Washing^ i
sity's McDonnell Laboratory
for Psychical Research.
For four years they d
con|unng as proof ol psychic
powers. The hoax destroyed
the Mae Lab's work and
sent researchers scurrying to
hone their protocols.
Randi has long hinted that
"much of alpha has never
been revealed. " And in the
press conference Thai
brought aJpha to light,. he
announced that project beta
was already under way.
Since then, he has also spo-
ken of a piO|ect gamma
What new Randi-buill horrors
does the future hold lor para-
Sociologist Marcello Trusa,
director of the Center ior
Scientific Anomalies Re-
search, doubts that there will
be any. The fearsome Randi.
he charges, may have noth-
ing up his sleeve.
"I aonl think anybody
really believes that R;
holding back any of project
alpha," he says. 'This slory
about how he wants to spare
any further embarrass^'-em ie
awlulty hard to believe."
As for project beta, Truzzi
points out that Randi's. de-
scription of it seems to have
changed a bil since the
first announcement. At that
time, Randi said that beta
would fail if luture psi studies
used proper controls. But
sought his help in ruling out
fraud, he pronounced beta a
success H had consisted,
he said, of waiting to see
"whether they had learned
Iheir lesson" and fixed their
"What we have to ask
ourselves." Truzzi comments.
'is whether the original beta
failed, prompting Randi
to make up a story to save
Randi denies the charge.
'Beta was a huge success for
parapsychology." he says.
"I was. enormously pleased."
That leaves gamma. Truzzi
thinks It may have been the
original beta, delayed a
bil so that whatevei went
wrong would work itseli out.
Again, Randi denies it.
Not only does gamma exist,
i will reveal the
inadequacy of someone's
work." Just how, he is unwill-
ing io say until gamma is
over, sometime in the next
two years.— Owen Davies
same quantum state, as with photons in a
laser, for instance. In a supersymmetric. the-
ory each ol these oaric'es is accompanied
by a superparticle of the other class. The
photino, for instance, is a.heavy fermion cor-
responding to the photon. The selectron is
a heavy boson corresponding to the elec-
tron. Squarks are heavy bosons corre-
sponding to quarks. By the way, I am not
responsible for this slanguage of supersym-
meiry. Anyway, at the highest-energy accel-
erators today — at CERN [European Center
■for Nuclear Research], near Geneva, and
■ FermiLab, outside Chicago — and at future
accelerators that we hope will attain even
greater energy, evidence for these super-
partners of known particles is being sought.
Omni: Why these supertheories?
Gell-Mann: These 'mathematical candidates
are very beautiful and seem to offer a coher-
ent unified scheme in which many different
haplons can occur naturally as components
ol one single superfield that has simple,
straightforward properties. Some of us dare
to hope that such a supertheory may turn
out to be the u.'imalo description of matter.
[Gell-Mann uses haplon to mean "funda-
The best candidate theories are (he so-
called N-8 supergravi'ty theory -and the the-
ories of superstrings in ten dimensions. Su-
perstrings reduce to four dimensions, if one
supposes that the ten dimensions sponta-
neously collapse into four, with the other six
rolled up into a little ball at every point in
space-time. In superstring theories' or su-
pergravity, we have generalizations of Ein-
stein's theory of gravitation that give possi-
ble ways of unifying everything with a single
superfield that contains examples of all the
kinds of particles (ha! we need.
Superstring theories, which I think are the
most likely to work, involve an infinite num-
ber of elementary objects, of which some
tens or hundreds are expected to have low
masses. Those low-mass elementary parti-
cles would include the graviton and, we
hope, all the apparently elementary parti-
cles with which we now deal, like electrons,
quarks, photons, and so forth, and their super
Omni: Couldn't many of today's fundamen-
i\ particles turn out to be tomorrow's com-
Gell-Mann: Yes, for instance it quarks and
electrons are composites, then their funda-
mental constituents will appear in the list of
haplons of the correct superunified theory,
in place of the quarks and electrons them-
Omni: What are some other special features
of superstring theory?
Gell-Mann: Superstring theory seems to re-
quire nine spalia. d'irno : iwony nstead of three
(plus the dimension of time). The extra di-
mensions would not then be perceived as
such but would affect the spectrum of the
elementary particles and the character of the
cosmology of the very early universe.
Omni: Why is Ihe wo'o string used?
Gell-Mann: The usual quantum field theory
posits a field at one point in space. Here,
instead of an infinite number of such fields,
we can, if we like, use a single field that is a
funciion of a one-dimensional path in space,
a string, Just as a point particle moving in
time describes a world-line in four-dimen-
sional space-time, so here a string in nine
spatial dimensions moving in time de-
scribes a world-sheet in ten-dimensional
Omni: What's the difference between a
world-line and a world-sheet?
Gell-Mann: If you think of it in classical phys-
ics terms, a point traveling through space
creates a line by extending one point alter
another. Extending a string through space,
essentially lay r,g one s: - -net next to another,
would then create a sheet. This, of course,
is only in classical terms. When viewed in
quantum-mechanical terms, the picture
starts to get a little fuzzy.
^Corresponding to the
deuteron is the antideuteron.
the speck of dust there
• ' is the speck of
antidust. And corresponding
to the frog,
there is an antifrog.^
Gell-Mann: We -ii-.ivt; a very good guess now,
which is based on three assumptions (one
of which seemed highly implausible) origi-
nally put forward in a very general way by
Andrei Sakharov, the Soviel physicist and
weapons designer who laic devoted him-
self to human rights and won the Nobel
Peace Prize. In the late Sixties Sakharov pro-
posed that the early universe was not in
[hemodynamic equilibrium, that asymme-
try between, matter and antimatter is a
somewhat more general phenomenon than
experimental discoveries ■■.■vouid so far have
indicated, and that the proton is not stable
but can decay [and they seem to, slowly]. If
all ol these hypotheses are true, then one
could have a symmetry between matter and
antimatter at-an early moment in the expan-
sion of the universe, followed by a process
. in which a huge asymmetry was produced,
resulting in virtually everything we now see.
The choice of matter or antimatter would de-
pend on the sign of a certain parameter that
so far has not been measured. Sakharov's
idea didn't receive very much attention until
Ihe .early Seventies. It was then found that
the simplest examples of quantum unified
dynamics necessarily implied proton decay.
Consequently, Sakharov'-? : oea moved from
a very far-out speculation to a proposition
squarely in the mainstream of particle phys-
ics. Many then worked on refining Sakhar-
ov's arguments and doing the calculations
more carefully, so that one can now make a
crude prediction of the ratio of neutrons and
protonsto photons in the universe. That ratio
is something like 10 - ,0 or 10 B . Many theo-
rists have taken Ihe success of this predic-
tion as an indication that there is some kind
of quantum unified dynamics with proton
decay and that we do have an explanation
for the preponderance of matter,
Omni: What might an antiorganism look like?
Gell-Mann: The laws of physics are very
nearly symmetrical between matter and an-
timatter. Now, that means that for every ob-
ject made of matter there is a corresponding
object, with almost the same properties,
made of antimatter. So correspondingto the
proton is the antiproton, having the same
mass, exactly opposite electric charge, and ■
opposite magnetic moment. Corresponding
to the deuteron is the antideuteron: corre-
sponding to-a speck of dust is a speck of
antidust; and corresponding to a frog there
is an antifrog. The antideuterons have been
produced in the laboratory, but nobody has
gone to the. trouble or expense of trying to
make the macroscopic things, like antifrogsl
People know ihat if you put matter and anti-
matter together, you get annihilation into
photons and so forth. This process can be
more or less violent depending on the cir-
cumstances, but it is clearly not easy to con-
tain anlimatter, even if you succeed in pro-
ducing it in a world consisting mainly of
Omni: Are particle reactions reversible?
Gell-Mann: If a reaction actually happens,
one can run the reaction backward and still
have it happen. Also, one can transpose any
particle from one side of the reaction to the
other, the way one can transpose a mathe-
matical quantity from one side of an equa-
tion to another. Just as one has to change
the sign of that mathematical quantity when
one transposes it from one side to the other,
so one has to turn the particle into its anti-
particle when one transposes particles in a
reaction. The resuifng -oaction may not be
energetically possible, in which case it can
occur only "virtually," but virtual processes
are very important in quantum mechanics.
A virlual process can happen over a short
.time, but then it has to unhappen. It can hap-
pen because in quantum mechanics, en-
ergy and time are complementary variables,
like momentum and distance. And this
means that when an uncertainty in energy is
small there is a large uncertainty in time, and
when there is a small uncertainty in time there
is a large uncertainty in energy. This means
that over a short time, energy is very uncer-
tain, and one can have nonconservation of
Omni: So if these particle reactions are re-
versible, how does this relate to time's sup-
posed inability to go backward?
Gell-Mann: That's a difficult question. The
microscopic laws of particle physics are
nearly symmetrical with respect to time re-
versal. When one reverses time, simulta-
neously changing left into right and particles
into anliparticles, there's complete symme-
try between past and future time. Neverthe-
less, we see a very strong asymmetry in Ihe
world around us. We see the egg turning
into a scrambled egg, but we don't see the
scrambled egg turning back into ihe egg.
This is a very serious and subtle question.
I came to my own conclusions about this
around twenty years ago, but I never pub-
lished my results. I concluded that it was the
conditions that applied in the beginning of
the universe that make the macroscopic
' world asymmetrical between past and fu-
ture. One needs not only the equations of
elementary particles to explain science but
also the condition of the universe fifteen bil-
lion years ago, when it was a tiny, expanding
hot ball. I convinced myself tha! the condi-
tions in the early state of the universe were
enough to explain all the distinctions we see
between past and future. But it is a subtle
question to work out how that cosmological
asymmetry results in things like the second
law of thermodynamics and gives us univer-
sal irreversibility, the so-called arrow of time.
Omni: Are your insights always the result of
Gell-Mann: It is of course crucial to the cre-
ative process to get the mind out of a rut.
The rut could be described as an attach-
ment to some preconceived idea that is un-
necessary, although widely received. Even
when someone suggests an excellent new
idea, it may, for particular historical reasons,
be accompanied by other ideas that are un-
necessary and wrong. The purification of Ihe
new idea from these accompanying wrong
notions is very important.
In theoretical physics we use very simple
- tools: pencil and paper, eraser, chair, and
table. More important than any of these is
the wastebasket. Almost every idea that oc-
curs to a theoretical physicist is wrong. And
it can be wrong on various grounds. The
simplest grounds for being wrong have to
do with logical inconsistencies. Once the
idea or theory is logically consistent, there is
also the question of whether it agrees with a
system of well-established observations. The
theory has to agree with itself, and it has to
agree with nature. Those are the require-
ments, and most theoretical ideas don't meet
them. So we crumple up most of our pages
of scribbles and throw them away.
Omni: How did your colleagues react initially
to your quark speculations?
Gell-Mann: Virtually all of them thought that
I'd gone bananas. In the fall of 1963 I called
Viki Weisskopf, who had been my Ph.D. ad-
viser when I was a graduate student at MIT
and who had become the director of CERN,-
to talk about the plans for constructing new
accelerators.. At one point I said, "By the way,
I have an idea how to explain all the patterns
of the strongly interaciing particles if they're
made of three kinds of fundamental objects,
one with a charge of plus two thirds and the
other two with charges of minus one third."
He said, "Oh, come on, Murray, this is a
transatlantic call; it's costing money. Let's not
pursue this kind of foolishness." That was
fairly typical of reactions at thai time.
Omni: Some people have described quarks
as mathematical fiction.
Gell-Mann: I used to describe this theory of
confined quarks modestly by saying that they
were mathematical, meaning simply that they
couldn't free themselves to be seen individ-
ually, bull didn't say that they were fictitious.
Many people mistook my meaning and
thought that I was saying that I didn't believe
in the quarks, which is, of course, not true.
What I meant was simply that they would be
permanently confined within the hadron. I
didn't want to get into an argument with phi-
losophers who would say, "Well, if they can
never get out, then how do you know they're
real?" I even have a prescription ordering
me not to argue with philosophers. It was
given to me by a doctor who attended one
of my exlension courses at UCLA.
physics we use simple tools:
eraser, chair, and table. More
these is the wastebasket. Almost
any idea that
occurs to a physicist is wrong5
Omni: If physicists find that these particles
are explained by some grand unified
scheme, how then can we relate quarks to
such things as the creation of art?
Gell-Mann: Quarks do not have anything to
do with art .directly. Fake connections, such
as those made by people who take seriously
the relation of my Eightfold Way to the
Buddhist Eightfold Way, have to be dissi-
pated. It somehow must be explained to
those people that it's all a joke. If one says,
■however, that scientific and artistic activity
have a lot ifl common, that is an entirely dif-
ferent matter. They are similar noble activi-
ties of the human spirit.
Omni: Because these fundamental particles
make up what we call matter, shouldn't they
be the same things that make up matter in
all its different forms, including artists?
Gell-Mann: Of course, but lhal connection is
remote. The laws of the elementary particles
and of the universe underlie all of science,
including all of physics, astronomy, chemis-
try, geology, biology, psychology, and in a
sense even social science. The ends of the
chain are so far removed from each other
lhai building the bridges necessary to ex-
plain human society, say, in terms of ele-
mentary particles is a practically hopeless
task. So we study the world at many different
levels and work on building bridges be-
tween neighboring levels. One can, in prin-
ciple, reduce social science to individual
psychology; reduce individual psychology
to biology; reduce biology io chemistry: re-
duce chemistry to physics; and then reduce
physics io elementary particle and cosmo-
logical physics. All these bridges are under
construction, and many of them will be un-
der construction for an enormously long time.
This means that one cannot draw any direct
conclusions from elementary-particle phys-
ics about life or about people. That's what is
misunderstood. They're not directly related.
Some young women in Aspen, for example,
are always talking about energy They say,
"Oh, you study energy. Well, you musl know
about the energy of human relationships."
That's baloney. That's misusing a metaphor.
Omni: What is your feeling about areas thai
are often labeled irrational?
Gell-Mann: There are a lot of mental proc-
esses out of awareness different from ra-
tional thought processes. I think this is the
most important part of human psychology.
But just because one is interested in uncon-
scious mental processes or the irrational, one
doesn't have io accept the word of every
Tom, Dick, Sigmund, or Carl about how they
function. Although they had hold of a lot of
truths, Freud and Jung were rather unscien-
tific in their approaches. Our understanding
of the irrational aspect of human behavior
would be enhanced if the unconscious
processes were studied scientifically.
Omni: Is there an irrational factor within par-
Gell-Mann: The science isn't irrational; the
scientists are. Why do I not publish some-
thing until a year or a year and a half has
passed? Why do I not see obvious things
that I should see? Why didn't I invent charm,
or believe it, in 1964? If I had, it would have
solved all our problems much sooner. There
is a lot of irrationality in our work.
Omni: Is there no irrationality within the
makeup of matter?
Gell-Mann: No. The term irrationality, in any
case, is usually applied to sentient crea-
tures. I believe the laws of nature are abso-
lutely straightforward and coherent; there are
no special interventions made by some kind
of divinity as conceived by certain theists.
Omni: If we find irrationality in human char-
acter, might it not stem from the fundamental
makeup of the atom?
Gell-Mann: That seems to be an exlraordi-
narily naive question! As I said, there are
many bridges to cross between elementary
particles and human beings. Just because
the fundamental physical laws are simple
and straightforward doesn't mean that things .
based on them can't have all sorts of com-
plications. Some of ihe most fascinating parts
of conlemporary science involve the inves-
tigation of how complex structures can arise
from simple elements or simple underlying
laws. Also, complexity itself seems to have
laws of its own.
Omni: You've said simplicity will lie in the
How do you do it ?
economy of principle.
Gell-Mann: Thai was in particle physics. 1
meant thai there are many apparently fun-
damental objects in today's theory, and we
conjecture that even in our future theory there
will be an enormous list of haplons, maybe
even an infinite list, as in supers! ring theory.
How, then, can we say that nature is simple?
It is all right as long as the haplons turn out
to be components of a single superfield. in
which the parts all fit together harmoniously
in an elegant, simple mathematical theory.
Omni: You raised the notion that what may
be needed in physics is a completely new
way of looking at things by some brilliant
Gell-Mann: It coutd well be thai we're bark-
ing up the wrong tree with our present the-
ories and that some brilliant young person
will have to look at what we're doing and say,
"No, no, you're stating the problem all wrong.
If you state the problem another way and get
rid of all these misconceptions, then it be-
comes easy to see that what is going on is
the following." Young theorists do not have
so much of a vested interest in present-day
theory and are perfectly willing to throw out
parts that seem unnecessary. Also, young
people have fewer responsibilities and
therefore more leisure to think.
When I was young. I had no particular
vested interest in certain ideas. For exam-
ple, I was perfectly willing to throw out the
notion thai particles resembling the proton
must have rial:- nigral sctcpic spin like the
proton. Likewise I had very few commit-
ments on my time. I was able to work when-
ever I wanted. It is not only the time spent
actually sitting at one's desk that matters but
what the preconscious mind is mulling over
when one is not at one's desk. As Yuval
Ne'eman told me, "What counts is whether
when you wake up in the middle of [he night
it's because you've had an idea in physics,
or because you've had an idea of hpw to
raise money for the university, or because
you've had an idea about some vote in Par-
liament." Is your preconscious cooking
physics or is it cooking, for example,
MacArthur Foundation business?
Omni: Why does it seem that physicists can
always get money to build an accelerator?
Gell-Manh: Shhhhhhh I Don't tell anyone. Ac-
tually, I like to think that there is something
about the character of our subject lhat ap-
peals to decision makers. Perhaps they
sense, even if they don't understand it, the
basic position occupied by our work. CO
page 33 lop
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE SS
the pleasure domes of Chalise iar below.
Stroboscopic reflections winked from her
pupils. Psi tendrils quivered as they probed
the psychic ether.
Overhead, night deepened. I closed my
eyes. Specters rose from hippocampal
graves, disturbed by circadian winds. They
thought the dream-time was close. They
couldn't frighten me now, not while I was
awake. Ghosts could frighten only sleeping
children. Terror came only in the dreams. I
didn't sleep at night anymore. Demons were
easier to take in the light of day.
I snapped a mnemone stick and sucked
its vapors deep into my lungs. Euphoria
burned in my mind.
I gol up and stood behind Risa. She con-
tinued to peer out the window, crouching on
all fours. I kissed the back of her legs, nuz-
zling soft fur with my lips. I moved upward,
rubbing my cheek against her rump. She re-
mained tense, caught up in hunt.
I knelt behind her. cupping fur-covered
breasts in my hands, and entered her. Mu-
cosal surfaces contained more induction
neurons than cutaneous ones, since they
were no more than modified tactile recep-
tors. Mucosal contact produced the best
pathic gestalt. I lay my head between her
shoulders and joined the hunt.
Myriad thoughts swirled through the ether,
like a million gleaming threads watting in the
wind. We moved among them, watching, lis-
tening, sniffing each in turn. Then we found
the scent for which we searched, We
crouched low to the ground, the fur bristled
along our back, and ourtail was held upright
with only the tip twitching back and forth. We
followed the mental scent back io its source,
slowly and cautiously, so as not to spook our
quarry. We'd hunted thus many times. Fear
was easy to find and easier to foster. The
simple, superstitious tribesmen on Mars had
been helpless to resist our sophistication. We
terrorized their dream-time; their chiefs and
medicinemen had prophetic visions of doom
that demoralized them, so they were help-
less when our combrid troops attacked. But
now Risa and I hunted for ourselves.
We had been together for five years: four
in the Combrid Corps as an LRT team on
Mars and one as a freelance path team.
Technically, we had deserted from the Corps
when the Martian Rebellion collapsed; we
hadn't bothered to muster out. A discharge
from the Corps included debriefing and de-
militarization. The Lord Generals didn't want
civilians running around with full military
hardware or software: they tended to be-
come mercenaries in future rebellions. Bui
the Lord Generals didn't want to pay idle sol-
diers either. Their solution was simple: D and
D — debre and demil. Debre wasn't bad;
psychesurgeons wiped out both Corps hyp-
no.training and all'memories laid down since
conscription. Demil was more unpleasant;
cybersurgeons ripped out any removable
hardware and snipped through muscle and
nerve tissue to bring a combrid down to
standard terran. Then cosmesurgeons gave
you back your original appearance— ap-
proximately. But Risa's and my military tis-
sue was mostly gray matter. On the outside,
save her almost normal mane. Risa looked
like an ordinary sphinx, I appeared to be
standard terran, Only our insides were dif-
ferent, primarily our brains. So D and D for
us meant a little neurosurgery to 'disrupt
classified synapses. Then a spot in a vege-
1 3b!e patch. No thanks. Even being a hunted
fugitive was better than that.
Besides, it was kind of fun to match wits
with the vice varks. We'd been afraid the
spooks of Corps Intelligence would come
after us, especially Kaly. Spooks made me
nervous. They were chameleons. They had
plastic tissue and could change both shape
and appearance a: ■-■ v i I . . becoming any other
hybrid or individual they wanted, The per-
fect disguise. Quite useful when you wanted
to infiltrate the enemy. But what made them
even more dangerous esoec:a : .ly from a path
on my body like St.
Elmo's fire. I
, thrashed, trying to put
out the fiame.
Risa pinned me down and
me with her tongue.^ 1
team's viewpoint, was that they also had in-
credible control over their thoughts. Whena
spook assumed a cover, he organized his
mind into the identity of the cover, with a
complete set of memories. His own psyche
was buried so deep and linked so tightly with
limbic nuclei, he would die before any incon-
gruous thoughts could give him away. Even
a path team could be tooled by a spook.
But in the year we had been on our own,
we'd yet to encounter a chameleon — just
dim-witted vice varks. Hardly the match of a
trained Long Range Terror learn, a .pair of
fear hunters late of the First Psyche Division.
Risa was the ernpath; she peeped minds to
discover what primal terrors lurked in their
dream-time. I was the telepath who sent
those hippocampal fears back to the cere-
bral cortex and magnified them. It's quite
demoralizing to be tormented by the one
thing you fear most, be that ghosts, goblins,
■ snakes, rats, fire, wind, or whatnot. Mere il-
lusion? Maybe so. But the demons I con-
jured were more terrifying than if they had
been real. They evoked instinctive fear that
a rational mind was helpless to defend
against, simply because the fears them-
selves were irrational. I only wished I was not
cursed to have to remember all the fears
But Risa could seek out other leelings. And
I could create other illusions besides fear.
Her flanks began quivering beneath me.
Something other nan s;a- light gleamed in
her eyes. We had located our quarry. He was
quite near and was unsuspecting. We could
We hunted close to home tonight.
The door to our suite, the Nyssa, opened
into a small foyer, across which was a liftube.
We stepped in and dropped slowly, holding
hands to keep from getting separated. Our
prey was still in his room. We followed his
chanting thoughts, entered his mind, and
examined his memories.
Several floors down, we switched to the
uptube, although no living eyes saw this. Our
images still drifted down.
Those same living eyes saw a child
dressed in a blue satin gown floating up the
other tube, carrying a cat in its arms. Only
Risa and I knew otherwise.
The child stepped out of the liftube a! the
two hundred forty-ninth level, and into the
foyer of the Ophir Suite, which was directly
opposite the Nyssa Suite. It — the child's sex
was not apparent— touched a finger to the
annunciator. A few seconds later, the door
dilated open. The child stepped through.
Before the door closed, Risa and I also en-
tered, darting through as quick as specters,
unseen by living eyes.
An Entropist monk sat in lotus on the floor.
facing the door. He stopped chanting. He
wore only the lavender robes of his order.
His shaven skull gleamed with oil; his eyes
shone with their own green fire. Though he
had taken personal vows of poverty, this
monk was hardly destitute. He was a money
courier. The Entropic Church financed most
of the rebellions against good old Mother
Earth. This monk was delivering a fortune to
one of those rebellions. He was to make de-
livery later tonight, after his amusement.
The child bowed low. The white cat leapt
out of its arms and began to prowl about.
"You desire comfort tonight, Brother Monk?"
il asked formally.
The monk nodded his head.
The child touched ils fingers to opposite
shoulders. The gown slipped into a. pile at
its feet. It stepped out, placing one hand on
its hip and the other over its head with index
finger pointed down, and it spun about
slowly. It seemed Io be an ordinary human
child of about ten years of age, a little long'
of leg and somewhat potbellied. Its features
were androgynous: upturned button of a
. nose, rosy cheeks, eyes sapphire blue, short
curls of flaxen hair,
It completed its spin and faced the monk,
then advanced closer, stopping a tew cen-
timeters from the monk's crossed legs. It
spread its knees and thrust its pelvis out. A
tiny penis dangled there. Then penis and
scrotum retracted, involuting into immature
female genitalia: hairless mound, undevel-
oped labia, rudimentary clitoris.
A figment of my imagination? Hardly, An
illusion, yes. Bui the image was based on
reality. The child was a pedimorph: a child
surrogate hybridized into a hermaphroditic
creature whose development was arrested
in preadolescence. It could have been fifty
years old or fifteen; its physiologic age would
always remain prepubescent. Pedimorphs
were indentured by their parents to the Guild
for twenty years. After- that they could buy
out their contract and be brought back to
standard terran — to normal endocrine de-
velopment—if they had saved enough
money. Most didn't. Most spenf their entire
lives as pedis. Which usually wasn't all that
long — the suicide rate was quite high.
The pedi stood motionless. A pink tongue
darted out to wet iis lips. 'Am I acceptable,
' Brother Monk?"
"Quite so," the monk answered. "Begin."
The monk pulled off his own robe, al-
though he imagined the pedimorph did it.
The pedi stood behind him, massaging taut
shoulder muscles. The ritual was beginning
to disgust me. After all, my imagination was
creating the images in the monk's mind.
Pedis were an acquired taste. But this illu-
sion was necessary.
Risa left and eniered the bedroom. A va-
lise of money was suspended in midair within
an alarm beam. She plucked it from the
beam. A ruby on the monk's finger began
flashing. He did not notice. The pedi now
stood in front of him, with its ankles caught
between the monk's crossed legs. The
monk's face was pressing into its groin.
Risa returned from the other room carry-
ing the valise. She waited by the door.
Time lor us to leave.
The monk's hands cupped the pedi's
slender buttocks. His fingernails cut deep
into tender flesh. The pedi screamed in pain.
Suddenly, I was angry. Rage narrowed my
vision into a blurred tunnel. My reaction dis-
turbed me. I'd seen worse in other minds.
Why should this scenario bother me?
The pedi's, hands encircled the monk's
neck. Thumbs gouged deep into carotid ar-
teries, then flattened tracheal rings. The
monk's eyes bulged; his lips turned blue.
Spittle drooled down his tongue. He did not
resist. This was still all part of the ritual.
He lost consciousness.
I should have relaxed the spasms in his
neck now and released his diaphragm from
its paralysis. But my rage was too strong.
The pedi continued to squeeze.
I had the overwhelming urge to strangle
the monk. I wanted him dead. A rational is-
land in my mind was puzzled. I had never
killed before, even in the war. Why now?
Anger burned even hotter. Now my fin-
gers did the squeezing. I closed my eyes.
A voice whispered in my.ear. Soft lips nuz-
zled my cheek. Strong arms wrapped
around me. Supple fingers kneaded my
flesh. A warm body pressed against mine.
The monk's mind was almosf dead. But
there was serenity instead of panic, as
though death were preferable to life. Dreams
unwound like a raveling tapestry — scenes
of war: combrids going into battle against a
dozen different kinds of hybrids, as seen
through rebel eyes: making love to a dozen
different kinds oi partners -hen cutting each
lover's throat; sticking knives into the backs
of sentries looking the other way, leaving
Risa's cool thoughts flowed over my fire,
extinguishing the flame. I opened my eyes.
I stood before the monk. My hands stran-
gled him. I lef go. His head slumped for-
ward, his body remained erect, lodked up-
right by his lotus posture. Dreams unraveled,
weaving back together. I sensed disap-
pointment, Risa relaxed her embrace. She
picked up the valise and started toward the
door, The monk's mind lapesfry faded. But
a melting image lingered to disturb me; a
doll's face with its features twisted into rage,
its teeth bared, lips snarling.
I stumbled out the door after Risa.
We were safe in our suiie.
When the monk recovered, he would not
report the theft of his money— that would di-
rect suspicion toward him. He would instead
<mRisa was an
empath — she peeped minds
what primal terrors lurked in
I was the telepath who
sent those tears
back to the cerebral cortex.^
try to locale a certain pedimorph himself. His
search would prove futile since this pedi did
not exist except in memory,
I sat near the window, staring out at the
glistening domes of Chalise. Risa padded
over to join me, rubbing against my side.
Static sparked between us. A rough tongue
licked my neck. I let her pull me over to the
bed. She climbed on top and began undu-
lating slowly Her mane lay flat, no fimbriae
quivered. No stray dreams disturbed our
lovemaking. I blanked my mind, concentrat-
ing only on delicious friction.
Later, as I held Risa close to me, troubled
Ihought came back. I remembered a dis-
Did you notice anything uni isual about the
monk? I asked.
The memories were a little strange, tor a
religious person. He seems to have had an
interesting lite. There was an area I couldn't
probe. Her thoughts resonated. I touched her
throat.. She purred. Probably church se-
crets. Rituals. Memories I would have to hill
to extract. Such protected zones are com-
mon among monks.
Didn't Hit! also have such an area?
■She nodded involuntarily. He was a smug-
gler and a gunrunner It's to be expected he
would pay a psychesuigeon to veal up a few
It seems odd that two in a row should be
She seemed so sure of herself. I let it go.
I trusted her ability. There was something
peculiar about our encounter with the monk.
I wonder why I got so angry?
Her thoughts were silent.
A realization struck.
Why did t get angry? You know, don't you?
She waited before answering. / know,
What is it? Why?
An unconscious memory bothered you.
What kind of memory? A memory of what?
That is hidden from even me.
You won't tell me?
I don't know.
She was not quite convincing.
But what could I do? I couldn't" see into my
own head, much less into hers. Okay. As long
as it doesn't matter.
Not to me.
She sought me again, as though in proof.
Demons haunted my dream-time.
I was paralyzed and could not move a
muscle. Rat teeth nipped flesh, gnawing my
fingers away. Snakes slithered around my
neck, gradually tightening their coils, while
fanged faces watched me, tasting my fear
with cloven tongues. Birds also worried about
my face, pecking at my unblinking eyes. Bats
fluttered about, then landed, sinking sharp
teeth and lapping up the free-flowing blood.
Flies buzzed lazily, depositing yellow spawn
in my wounds that soon hatched info wrig-
gling maggots. Then I heard water flowing.
Cool wetness touched my skin. The water
had climbed higher and higher, until it lapped
about my neck. For some reason, I did not
float. And I was still paralyzed. The water
rose — over my mouth, over my nose, then
over my eyes. I held my breath until it seemed
my lungs would burst. I could hold it no
longer. Bubbles streamed out my nostrils. I
gasped for air; water filled my lungs instead.
I tried to scream. Images darted out of my
mouth and floated away.
A radioactive doll glowed in the darkness,
luminescent tears dripping from its eyes.
I woke with sweat cooling on my skin. Risa
sat up in bed beside me, holding her head
between her hands.
"I was sending."
She nodded. "You've given me quite a
headache. Most of the other hotel guests
have had bad dreams, not to mention half of
the rest of Chalise. In a few days, after cas-
ual conversations, they'll begin to realize they
all had the same nightmare."
"Then varks will start snooping around.
Wed best move on."
"No, not yet." I missed the cunning in her
voice. "We have time for one more. "
"You've found someone?"
"Yes. She looks very interesting. Just your
type. We'll sting her tonight."
"You're sure there's enough time?"
"Of course. I've searched all of Chalise.
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No one is suspicious yet. I can't resist this
one. You'll enjoy it. She's a demilled veteran
of the Corps."
I lay back and closed my eyes. Yes, this
next sting would be enjoyable. We veterans
all had something in common; we'd commit-
ted some atrocity — some capital offense —
that had gotten us sentenced to the Foreign
Legions instead of death. Demilled veterans
were given back their pasts. That was the
law. Since I was an outlaw, I didn't have my
past. But I still held the naive hope thai I
would find some common theme in the
backgrounds ol other combat hybrids that
would enable me to guess my own.
I dozed oif. A doll's face cycled out of its
Ganymede's artificial day had faded. The
reality of night returned. Risa stood before
the window. I followed her gaze; she watched
white-hot plasma spewing from the fusion
fountain of a nightclub perched below us on
the hm of Chalise crater.
Another hunt began.
We strolled the streets of Chalise. Risa and
I. If any cameras recorded our passage, the
captured images would show only a true hu-
man and a sphinx walking together. Not so
unusual by today's standards. Hardware was
difficult to fool. We'd have had lo be cha-
meleons to fool cameras. Not so software.
The living eyes that saw us "saw" two mer-
chant sailors on shore leave. We were two
among many, for Chalise was a maritime city
Two sailors were even less likely to be re-
membered than a sphinx and a standard
human. We appeared to be quite ordinary
sailors; two meters tall; naked save our capes
and the sonic jewelry that decoraied fin-
gers, toes, noses, and ears; skin as black as
obsidian and shining with protective mon-
omer; supple fingers and toes equipped with
tree-frog suction cups; nictitating mem-
branes covered our eyes, other sphincters
protected nostrils and ear canals; bald skulls
wifh scalps that were convoluted into ridges
by subcutaneous cyberwires. Two common
cybernetic hybrid sailors. Nothing al all to
I was pleased with my attention to detail.
You couldn't be too careful in our line of work.
We passed all the usual diversions found
on the Outer Moons; peptide parlors, simu-
lacrum arenas, :so;cpewesi : ing, mnemone
dens, deformity brokers, and mind casinos.
Pedimorphs leered at us from open door-
ways, tempting us with their tongues. We
showed polite interest, as sailors would, bul
declined, J concealed the revulsion I felt.
We slowly made our way to the ice cliffs
that lined the crater wall. A thousand meters
above the crater 1 loo r, a permaplastic dome
covered the wreckage of an ancient fuship.
It had crashed there ages ago, before nu-
clear energy was supplanied by radiacrys-
tals and gravsails. But the old fusion thrusler
still throbbed with life. Plasma spewed into
space from the old jets, forming a thermonu-
clear fountain that threw bright tendrils a
hundred clicks out, all leading back to a
nightclub called Critical Mass.
"You think of something! It was your idea to zip hack a few million centuries and wipe out the mosquito at its source."
Tonight's quarry awaited us there.
We entered Critical Mass. A hostess
greeted us and pinned a radiation badge on
our capes. I smiled at this touch of realism.
She showed us to a table. A transparent
dance floor formed a disc pierced through
its center by the thruster chamber. Tables
were placed along the periphery. A dim, blue
glow emanated through the walls of the
magnetic bottle. A low throb beat from each
solid surface. Audiocrystals hung overhead.
Tendrils of optical music exuded from their
facets to swirl in midair over the dance floor,
before slowly drifting down into tangles
among the dancers.
Risa smiled. To other eyes, a sailor's lips
■ curled upward. To my eyes, furred lips sep-
arated to reveal sharp, white teeth. Music
glinted from their points. Her eyes gleamed.
Silver fimbriae quivered about her head.
"Let's dance," Risa said-.
"Isshe still here?"
"Lei's dance." She touched my hand with
her finger, moving the tip in a circular motion.
Induction neurons set up their transcutane-
ous field between us. A tingle ran up my arm,
an image darted into my mind; an old lion-
ess watched two young lions courting. Re-
sentment smoldered in her eyes. She bared
toothless gums in a grimace of hate.
I picked up Risa's hand and led her out to
the dance floor. We danced like sailors: with ■
wild abandon. Yet we were also graceful and
elegant, and we made leaping pirouettes that
took us almost to the ceiling.
When we relumed to our table, someone
was waiting there. Her face was obscured
by shadow. A finger wearing a ring set with
a huge, singing diamond tapped nervously.
"I admired your dancing," she said, low-
ering her eyes briefly in false shyness. "I
wonder if I might speak to you for a moment.
If it's no bother . . ,"
"Certainly." I said.
"No bother at all." Risa giggled.
We both sat down.
I saw her clearly now. She was almost
beautiful. The cosmetic surgeons had done
a good job. There were a few tiny scars
around her eyes and nostrils where sphinc-
ters had been removed. Hardly noticeable,
unless you knew where to look. I knew there
could be other scars through which hard-
ware had been salvaged, but they were
concealed by her gown. Full breasts pushed
out against a gold-trimmed bodice. A neck-
lace of singing pearls rested on them. Her
hair was straw-colored and cut as short as
wheat stubble but was thick enough to hide
the white lines where cyberwires once had
been. Her eyes were the green of jade.
I placed my hand on Risa's. An electric
tingle tickled my palm; we entered her mind.
"What do you want to talk about, Lady Jo-
nan?" She was once again a Lady from Old ■
Earth, no longer a lance corporal.
"How do you know my name?" She looked
at me, afraid for an instant. The face she saw
was open, pleasant, laughing. She relaxed.
"If you know my name, then you know my
story as well. You know what I want you to
tell me." She smiled. A waiter arrived with a
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vase of mnemone tubes and a glass of Earth
wine. "I took the liberty of ordering for us. I
hope I got it right." She reached for the glass
and sipped its wine, rolling the liquid around
her mouth with her tongue.
Risa and I snapped open mnemone tubes
and inhaled the vapors into our lungs.
"I want you to tell me about the blue
empty," the Lady said. ' ! lf that wouldn't be
too much trouble. I'll pay you for your time."
She drank down the wine in one long gulp.
A drop ran down her chin. "My yacht is
moored at the spaceport." She smiled slyly.
"We could be more comfortable there. I think
it's important to be comforlable when telling
stories, don't you? Shall we go?"
I nodded. Telling stories of the blue empty
was the code phrase used by sailing group-
ies to sailors when they meant they wished
to purchase our favors. But the Lady's
schemes went beyond the usual. I could
hardly wait. Risa had been right.
Three bodies sprawled on a wombskin
pad in the main cabin of a blue space racer:
Lady Johan and her two new sailors. All were
naked. Two sailors lay on their backs, head
to head. Lady Johan sat near them, holding
a small vial between thumb and forefinger.
She dipped her tongue into the vial, then
leaned over a sailor's face, lowering her pro-
truding tongue until it touched his eye. Blue
peptide flowed across his cornea. She re-
peated the ritual with the other eye. Then
with the other sailor. The vial contained a
mixture of endocaine and endrogen — speed
and sexsteroid. Soon bodies mingled into a
confused mass of torsos and limbs. A pep-
tide frenzy slowly built. Flesh slapped against
flesh. Sweat shone from skin. Breath whis-
tled out of nostrils. Low moans escaped
Risa finished plundering the- yacht — a
meager haul for a member of the aristoc-
racy; a few mediocre jewels, a little cash,
two uninteresting objets d'art. But that was
all right. I was more interested in the mind of
this particular mark than in her loot. We had
explored her mind thoroughly.
She had been a young Lady of one of the
old families on Earth, amusing herself with
the usual diversions. While under the influ-
ence of too-much endocaine, she had caught
her lover with another. In a fit of jealousy (over
not having been invited to share her lover's
lover), she grabbed an antique sword from
the wall and. decapitated them both. That
had been her ticket to the Foreign Legions.
She had become a cyrine. While in the
Corps, she found another lover — a sailor.
Their ship took a hit and depressurized. She
lived, he died. That explained the next part
of her ritual. The Lady had a unique per-
version. She had set her ship's computer to
automatically blow open the main airlock at
a preprogrammed time. That time was right
now. (Of course Risa reset the computer so
the lock would.not open unexpectedly. Mind
reading has certain advantages.)
We were ready to leave, so we pulled on
space coveralls and attached 0^ bubbles
over our heads. We entered the airlock and
closed the inner door. The Lady must not be
disappointed. Otherwise she might inform
the varks. So I let the hatch blow in my imag-
ination; warm air suddenly rushed out of the
cabin, replaced by thin wisps of hydrocar-
bon at two hundred below. The sailors re-
acted instinctively; one ran for an emer-
gency sealing kit while the other placed his
lips over the Lady's mouth and nose. Their
respirations synchronized; they exchanged
breaths. The sailor had oxygen stored within
brown adipose— a little diffused back into
his lungs and his exhaled breath — enough
to keep the Lady alive, if not conscious,
The airlock cycled, and the outer door di-
lated. Risa and I stood in near vacuum, pro-
tected by space coveralls and breathing re-
catalyzed oxygen. The inner door remained
sealed, the cabin warm and pressurized.
Except in the Lady's mind.
She sank into a pseudohypoxic coma.
Risa turned to face me. I leaned toward her
until our O a bubbles fused. Our lips touched;
our tongues slipped past themselves.
6/ was paralyzed.
Rat teeth nipped flesh.
around my neck, tightening
their coils, while
fanged faces watched
me, tasting my
fear with cloven tongues.^
Beyond the inner door, a mind tapestry
raveled. Images unwound from the fabric of
memory: The Lady playing her endless rit-
ual, seeking something lost to the blue empty,
all recapitulations of when her lost lover had
not been saved by her because she chose
to flee instead of staying to help him; scenes
of war, staccato glimpses of a sword flash-
ing an arc through the air, biting through
muscle and cartilage, with blood spurting
high. Then I saw another pattern hidden
within the weave of the other. Ghost dreams
came back to 'haunt me: An alphalash swings
its terrible arc, a doll strangles a naked monk.
Memory threads stopped unwinding, their
strands held by a locked weave whose pat-
tern was amorphous gray. But I had seen
enough. I understood the Lady's deception.
I willed her heart to stop and her lungs to
cease breathing. My thoughts couldn't pen-
etrate her basal ganglia. Those parts of her
■brain were protected. I tried to open the in-
ner door, to let in real vacuum, but it was
locked from inside. No doubt another pre-
programmed order in her ship's computer.
She was safe from me. All I could do was
buy a little time. I depolarized a few more
cortical synapses so she would remain un-
conscious for a little while longer.
It was more than coincidence thai our two
previous marks had part of their memories
protected. They had been bait, to keep us
occupied while help arrived, all disguises of
the same person, the same Lady. She was
no ordinary vark. Varks could not change
both their appearance and persona at will.
But she had made a mistake. She had
blown her cover. We knew who she was now.
If we were lucky, Risa and I could still es-
cape. I took her hand, and we ran through
Our bags were packed, our loot safely
hidden. We were ready to go. A gravship
sailed in thirty minutes — we had already
booked and confirmed passage.
A bellmech picked up our baggage. Risa
prowled back and forth in front of the door.
"Hurry, Nate!" Her voice was an impatient
hiss. "She wakes. We must leave at once." I
seemed to have no ambition left. I was un-
afraid. Nothing mattered, not even escape.
Memories of dreams kept dancing in my
head: skulls with yellow teeth clicking; bats
fluttering; rats scurrying across bedclothes;
demons howling with glee. They were my
dreams, glimpsed in the Lady's raveling
mind tapestry. Gray ghosts coalesced into
unfamiliar faces. I knew what was wrong.
"We can wait no longer." Risa came over
to tug at my arm. With her touch, I too sensed
the Lady waking. Dream filaments unrav-
eled, weaving back into memory; a million
children screamed in terror at the night, hud-
dling beneath their blankets as specters
shrieked their taunts.
I knew what was wrong. The dreams
winding were my own. The Lady shared my
dreams, knew my nightmares. There was
only one way that was possible.
"We have to go now!" Risa shouted,
I pulled free of her touch. "I can't leave," I
said. "She knows who I am."
"So do I."
"Then tell me."
"We don't have time."
"I can't be the one. You would hate me too
much." Her eyes held a cunning I had not
"Then I'll wait for the Lady. She might be
more cooperative than you,"
Ri-sa's hand flashed out, slashing me
across the cheek. "I love you too much," she
said. Four lines stung my face. I touched my
finger to the wetness on my skin, then licked
the blood from its tip. Risa's eyes shimmered
wet. She turned and ran out the door.
A doll's face leered at me where she had
been, with eyes that could not cry.
I stood alone in the penthouse, staring out
one of its facets. A gravship rase out of
clinging mists and whispered sunward, Risa
leaving. A part of myself was also leaving.
We had been imprinted on each other and
had worked together for five years. You
couldn't be a path team without an empath.
I had lost my eyes and ears, my taste, touch,
and smell. But that was a less immediate
problem. I'd made my choice. I might not get
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Plei.se senn me a copy ofihe.Vosif
I am sincerely interested.
another chanced exorcise ir.ysellol dream
Demons— I ccuk.i no longei boor their taunts.
I had to know who 1 had been.
The door opened 'Someone walked into
the room I turned to face her and slared into
"I krt a , ■■ ,m H :..' ,■■.! 7: i "crme." she
s one I recognizee; a cyrino named Kalv.
Are you ical y Kaiy"-' One could never be
I f -usl have ooked surpriseo
She .at.ohed again "if i hadn't, someone
3e would have. Your M.O. is too stereo-
ped. All I had to do was set up the right
srsonas as bail and you came to me like a
olh lo a candle, -'cl. should have oeen ir.ee
ii' -;-. > ■ 1 -; Corps. We
made sure yo
■;■.:.<, ■■'--:■ r\.,ip iblcol caus-
ing much trc
i.o e. 3'k, uokco around.
ittlepet?" 1 oidn;, ike the nasty
juton the word.
coesn't hke unpleasanlncss."
"Bui you he
d to stay. You saw something
my thoughls. You had to find
out more." Sh
j nl ed again but not with
the sn ,.,i! •■■ •
:_..■: igh: have exoeced. Her
voice was ta
nted with somelhing else, 'A
e not more cunning. You
outsell be so eas'y manipu-
itioned for me to move.
crisp hole -1 nor swed"'rr,i
forehead. The button moved.
"Okay," she gasped, "You win."
I lei tar d openec: soastr.odieally. The gun
clattered to the floor.
"What is it you wanl?" she asked.
Twanl tenknow about myself. Everything
you can toll me "
"Fair enough. Bui is there any need to be
I let her cross Ihe room. She waved a hand
through a laser beam; a circular bed rose
from the floor, I let her lead me to it and lay
with her on the wombskin. Our clothes came
off arid dropped to the tloor. I would allow
her one more ritual.
"Let's not talk just yet." she said, smiling.
Her lips began nibbling my skin. I knew she
was stalling. ■■
"Tell me first," I said,
"There'll be plenty of time fortalking later."
J sharpened' knives in her mind.
"Okay. What do you want to know?"
"Why Ihe nightmares? Why are my geno-
dreams ones of terror?"
"Telepaihs were harder to engineer than
empaths. I ought to know, I was once a
genosurgeon lor Corps Inteli gence. I was in
charge of the p-o.ect that c/ealeri your kind.
Empaths were easy. There were lots of spe-
cies with latent ernpaihr. ablites; dogs, cats.
raptors, certain insects. Those genes were
easily isolated. We found sphinxes were ideal
hosts for those genes. But there were no
known animal telepaths, just a few psycholic
humans who did not live past puberty. And
Ihey were rare. None were in existence when
we needed them, So we had to create a
telepath." Her voice caught for the first time.
"And how was this done?"
"Only a human brain was complex
enough." Apologetically. "And it had to be
one that had not yet developed nontele-
pathic synapses — habits, if you will. Tele-
pathic brains are extremely rare. We weren't
monsters, we only did what we had to."
"Millions of fetal brains were set up in vitro.
All motor efteren:s we-'e severed: the brains
were physiologically paralyzed. Then it was
just a question of providing the stimuli and
waiting for somelhing to develop."
I visualized millions of tiny brains floating
in bubbling culture media, with thousands
of fine wires running to each. "What kind of
stimuli?" I.asked. "Whal kind of dreams?"
She smiled. "Oh, you know. Night terrors.
Clin 1 i i ii gave them visages of
your own choosing, from your own dreams.
The terrors themselves were quite ab-
stract—pure fear, if you will. Our computer
merely stimulated Ihe r'gnt limbic nuclei. The
fetal brains had to develop in a milieu of ter-
ror and could do nothing about it, in a con-
ventional way, wiih their motor efferents cut.
They withered and died from fright."
"Except one, " she agreed. "One brain de-
veloped differently. One brain survived. Mo-
tor cortex convoluted in a strange new way.
And one brain finally lashed out at its tor-
mentors ihe only way it could— telepathi-
cally. I'll always remember the images it sent
into my mind. I'll never forget those dreams.
Anyway, we'd tound our telepalhic brain. The
potential had always been there, only the
right conditions were necessary to bring out
the latency. It was routine genosurgery to
isolate the responsible genes."
"Those genes were given to me?"
"Of course. But we couldn't separate te-
lepathy from night lerrors. The one predis-
poses to the olher. Only a fearful mind is te-
lepathic. So the brain must not completely
mature. If it grows out of night terrors, il would
also outgrow telepathy." She winked at me.
"That's why you were picked. It was easier
to make do with what we had."
■ "What do you mean?" I suddenly felt con-
lused, "What's so special about me?"
"Don't tell me you believe your own cha-
rade? A magician fooleo by his own tricks?
How amusing." She thought briefly, "Of
course. That last night before you deserled.
Was it that traumatic'' Was I that bad?"
"What about me ? Why was I sentenced to
the Foreign Legions? Why were my memo-
ries stolen from me?"
"You killed a man," she answered simply.
"You murdered a customer." Sweat shone
from her skin. Her breasts bobbed. Her eyes
.gleamed with more than jovelight.
'A customer? What's that mean?"
She laughed wickedly. "You broke the most
sacred covenant of your guild. No punish-
ment is too severe for your kind. Besides, I
already told you we had to make do with
physiotypes that were already hybridized.
Only immature brains could be made tele-
pathic. We needed brains that couldn't ma-
nure. Your kind did nicely."
She began changing in tront of me. Flesh
remodeled, as though worms were wrig-
gling beneath the- skin. Her honest cyrine
face lost its black sheen and protective bony
ridges around nose and eyes. It became a
glob of congealed plastic. Another face grew
out of the ruins of the first. I knew what crea-
ture she was becoming.
"Stop it!" I shouted.
But the change was complete. A child
straddled me, A child with a doll's features;
upturned button of a nose, rosy-red cheeks,
eyes the blue of robin eggs, soft curls of yel-
low hair. Not a child, either. A pedirnorph.
"Stop it. Change back to something less
disgusting. I'm no pederast. I can make you
change into something else."
"Like you changec youisc-K?" The voice
was high-pitched, with childish inflections.
"Haven't you guessed what creature you are?
What you always must be?"
A hand intercepted a laser beam switch.
A ceiling holomirror sprang to life overhead.
I saw two naked dots locked n an obscene
embrace. Both had identical features, I knew
it was no illusion. Illusions were of my mak-
ing. A doll's fabe came close. Doll's lips be-
gan kissing mine,
"Stop it!" I screamed. My hands circled
the neck. My fingers squeezed tight.
"Haven't you wondered why a genosur-
geon would become a chameleon?" she
asked. "If only I could change my dreams
as easily as my body." She smiled, I
"Haven't you ever wondered how they de-
mill chameleons? Can't you understand?"
she forced out before her larynx was.
crushed. An unpleasant image darted into
my mind: a woman being skinned alive by
sharp scalpels. And even that was not pun-
ishment enough. I kept squeezing. Eyes
bulged. The head slumped back, flaccid with
paralysis. Drool ran between cyanotic lips.
Blood dripped from ears and nostrils. I sud-
denly remembered- killing once before: He
had wanted to hurt me and had used an _
alphalash on me. I haled the lash. I couldn't
stand it any longer, so I had hurt him instead.
It had been worth it then. It would be worth
it now. Then I remembered another night with
Kaly. She had whipped me with an alpha-
lash then, trying to hurt me enough that I
would lash back at her telepathically. But my
mind became osyc'iotic ms-ead; not want-
ing to kill again, I created a delusion for my-
self. Someone had helped me run away.
A voice whispered in my ear, soothing,
calming. Strong fingers tugged at mine,
pulling them away one by one. Lips kissed
I couldn't leave you.
I'm glad you came back.
So am I.
I almost killed the spook. She is Kaly.
I know. That's what she wanted and
I could see the pattern in the spook's rav-
eling mind tapestry, The gunrunner, the
monk, and Lady Johan had all been real
covers. She had really lost her lover, twice. I
saw endless cycles of friendships broken,
lovers betrayed, of hiding behind disguises,
never allowing either true v sage or persona
to be seen. Then I heard the cries of a million
children, frightened to hysteria by the de-
monic images carried by wires to their brains.
QHer linger now
slowly tightened against
the stud. Her eyes
< stared at the gun's muzzle,
waiting for a
quantum of light to flash
out and bum a
crisp hole in her forehead.^
Kaly had tried to get me to kill her once be-
fore. Now she had tried again. The barriers
were down. Her mind was unprotected.
There's an easier way than death.
There was. I flooded hippocampal gray
with peptidases. Neurotransmitters were
dissolved from synaptic pathways. Dreams
spun out, their filaments melting like cob-
webs in sunlight, never to be unraveled.
The chameleon would remember nothing
of us or of anyih'nc else since childhood.
She would no longer be tormented by her
.guilt. Risa and I leit together.
In a cabin in a gravliner, Risa and I made
love. Jupiter dwindled astern, its moons no
more than brighter stars. Ahead lay the as-
teroids and beyond them Mars and its two
moons, We would catch up to our baggage
somewhere along the way.'
Our images were reflected from bur-
nished brass; a lithe cat-woman entwined
with a doll. As our bodies moved toward love,
a mind tapestry raveled. I saw a strange
melding ot imagery as though seen through
both Risa and my eyes: of our life together
on the run, then during the war. I saw my
delusion of my appearance, ot the illusion I
projected to others. Then new dreams un-
twined: I saw myself performing a pedi-
morph's ritual, being whipped with an al-
phalash. all ending m the same strangling. I
saw myself sold to a child broker so my fam-
ily could survive a few more years. I remem-
bered my siblings, fwas chosen because I
was the fairest child. I remembered my par-
ents. I loved them all again. I forgave them.
Night terrors rose but could no longer
frighten. I remembered myself again.
My memories weren't taken away.
Not completely Only hidden.
And the delusion. I remembered orgasms
I had never had.
So you wouldn't have lo kill again.
But you knew all the time?
Laughter. Warm and pleasant. Of course.
What can be hidden from me?
You don't mind about me? What I am?
More laughter. We've been imprinted to-
gether. I love you as part of myself. The way
you are. All of you. You are my voice.
Why didn't you tell me?
I was afraid you would want to change if
you remembered you were a pedirnorph. I
knew how you felt about it. You could have
had your endocrine arrest reversed. I was
afraid you would. Then you would neither
want nor need me. I would lose you.
AroT=-:-' realization struck. Then you knew
about the chameleon all the time. You let her
play her game with me, so I could find out
about mysei' wiiheu: you telling me.
A cat face grinned. Yes. Are you angry?
Not now. I let a thought curl about the
edges of my mind. / do have more than
enough money lo buy a littie endosurgery. I
could grow out of this doll's body. I could
have real sex.
Risa's mind was guarded; she kepi her
But then I would no longer have the gift.
I kissed her. She knew what that meant
and kissed me back. Bodies were unimpor-
tant, merely to be looked upon. I could have
any body I wanted, be any beauty that had
ever been beheld by living eyes. Pleasures
were just as fine no matter in whose neurons
they first originated. And the spook had been
right — we could be more than petty thieves
rolling Johns. That was a phase out of my
past, which had now been exorcised.
I looked out the port— there were worlds
to conquer out there.
Risa and I touched. Our bodies moved to
love, driven by resonating thoughts rather
than tactile- stimuli. Beyond both the desire
and the spasm, we remained touching,
basking in the warmth o! ebbing love.
I've saved the best for last. Her thoughts
were sleepy. / no longer have lo guard any-
thing from you. She dozed.
I sail high above the ground on out-
stretched wings, riding summer thermals. I
howl ata moon of night I charge across dry
veld; my terrible roar paralyzes my prey with
fright. Talons slash. Claws rend. Fangs tear
open throats, tongues lap warm blood. My
mate runs beside me, proud.
Dreams unwind. . . .DO
4- : "
ill "^' **rf !"■.•»< ^ * J
*v i r
-f, •»* \ii
The secret lives of paper and rubber
By Scot Morris
Several years ago a young Chicago physi-
cian, Thomas Kovachevich, had some
leisure lime and decided to spend if paint-
ing. It was a particularly humid day, and.
he found himself with a problem familiar to
artists — his drawing paper wouldn't lie
Hat. Some papers are "alive" and respond
to changes in temperature and humidity
by curling up. The problem is well-known,
and it makes some papers quite difficult to
store, handle, and sell.
Most paper has a preferred direction of
curl, and anyone who has loaded a photo-
copy machine knows that the paper has
to go in with its curl a certain way.
Rather than curse the problem, Kovach-
evich decided to study it. He stapled
several pieces of gummed paper toa wall
in his studio and was. pleased to find, that
they presented a meteorological mural,
curling up on dry days and opening out on
wet days — a sort of aesthetic hydrometer.
This curling action is what warps your
wooden doors .and curls up the posters
and calendars you hang on your walls. A
time-lapse film would show continuous,
animallike movement. Kovachevich
wondered if he could speed the motion
so it could be seen by the naked eye.
The problem was to put paper in abetting
where humidity varied continuously; the
solution was as simple as stretching a cloth
membrane-over a pan of hot water.
Kovachevich found that if he dropped
small pieces of paper on the. cloth, they
suddenly "came alive," writhing and turning
like animated two-dimensional beings.
In 1976, Kovachevich got a patent for his
discovery, a method "for effecting continu-
ous movement in fibrous materials," includ-
ing everything from paper to wood veneer,
to animal skin. He marketed a presentation
of his brainchild, called Paper Comes
Alive, through the Museum of Contemporary
Art. in Chicago. It included a large book
with paper of the appropriate thickness, a
flat plastic tray, and a sheet of Scotchguard-
treated polyester, The first printing sold
ou: and wasrv, reissued: so now thereis no
"official version" to buy. The only way to '"
view the phenomenon is with homemade'
materials, and Dr. Kovachevich has given us
permission to print here, for the' first time
anywhere outside his own book-package,
the complete instructions for making
paper come alive.
TRY IT YOURSELF '___
You will need some hot water, a deep
container such as a soup bowl or coffee cup.
a semipermeable membrane such as a
handkerchief or a piece of polyester fabric,
and some very thin paper (onion skin
would work well) that you have cut into small
the twisting and turning continues until
either (he paper gets too wet to move or
the water gets too cool to vaporize quickly.
Kovachevich has hopes for his discovery
beyond its value as a scientific curiosity
or an artistic medium. He hopes it might
someday prove to be a means ot tapping
the power of evaporation. This would
complement the tamiliar forms of hydro-
power — dams and water wheels — by
using the water on the "upward" side of its
shapes — triangles, circles," and long paral-
lelograms, for example.
Put some hot (but not boiling) waterJn
the container. Stretch the cloth over the rim,
then dropa couple of pieces of paper on
top. They will suddenly "comealive," twisting,
squirming, and turning over with snakelike
undulations. As the paper inches toward .the
rim of the container, you can readjust the
cloth so the paper stays in the middle.
What is going on here? As the- water vapor
comes through the cloth, it collects on the
bottom side of the paper, which expands,
relative-to the top side, and the paper curls
up. This exposes the moist paper surface
to the air, so the moist side dries out and
curls the other way. As opposite-sides of *
the'paper keep getting wet and drying off,
cycle, as it ascends into the atmosphere.
This could be a huge resource. When the
Aswan High Dam, in Egypt, was com-
pleted — after 15 years of work and billions
of dollars spent — it caused the Nile to
spread into a lake so large that an enormous
amount of water was lost to evaporation.
As a result, only four of the dam's ten
turbines were powered, and only half of the
land got the expected irrigation.
Might there be a way to harness this
power— to stretch huge screens over bodies
of water, put fibrous material on top, and
convert the resulting motion into energy? The
idea may seem an impossible dream, but
surely it is no more farfetched than some
other proposals we have heard lor alternate
energy sources. In the meantime,
making paper come alive is a remarkable
new demonstration of kitchen magic that
you can perform anytime with just paper, a
thin cloth, and hot-water.
THE TRICK THAT NEVER WAS ~
Another brand-new bit of magic, the
boomerang band, was- a "nontrick" for mora
than ten years.
The Indian rope trick is the most famous
nontrickjn magic It starts when a fakir's
rope climbs into thin air, and a smaii assistant
climbs the rope to the top and disappears-.
It has been described many times but
never firsthand. No reputable observer has
ever seen it. The weight of opinion among
magicians is that the trick doesn't exist and
In the boomerang band, a magician
shoots a rubber band off his finger, and the
rubber band lands on the.flo.or and rolls
back to him. This nontrick started as a
practical joke.qn Dai Vernon, who is recog-
nized as the dean of American magicians.
In 1971 a group of magicians in Southern
California planned, a vacation trip to Tijuana
and other, points south of the border.
Among them were Frank Garcia, Tony
Slydini, and Mike Skinner. They wanted Dai
Vernon to join them, but the Professor, as
he was called, wasn't interested. Try as
they might to persuade him, Vernon wouldn't
budge. Garcia recalls that the gang of
three left and enjoyed themselves over the'
weekend but regretted that the Professor
hadn't come along. They wanted to get
even with him and decided that the best
way to make.him sorry he had stayed
home was to come back with stories of an
incredible magician they had seen who
■performed unheard-of miracles.
Garcia, Slydini, .and Skinner found a
willing Mexican- bartender who posed for
several "impossible" photos. In one-shot, he
had turned a deck of cards into eight
"fans," one between each pair of fingers.
He also posed with coinsin difficult grips
and with rubber bands stretched between
his fingertips. -■
When the magicians returned to Los
Angeles they ignored Vernon and would
stop talking, when he came around. Finally,
when Vernon apologized for not joining
them, they explained that they weren't mad
but were just sorry he had missed seeing
some of the most -incredible feats they
had ever witnessed. They told him about
the bartender who could fan the.cards, and .
they produced the Polaroid pictures to
prove it. "We told Vernon that the man was
named Jose Vergas" Garcia told us. That
translates as Joe Schmuck.
When Vernon asked what Vergas's most
astounding trick was, Garcia and his
■cohorts told him that the man shot a rubber
band to the. floor and that the band stood
up and rolled back to his feet!
This was the story that Vernon found
hardest to believe, so it was the one the
magicians repeated the most often. For
many years the boomerang band trick lived
only in legend— a nontrick that was talked
about but that no magician had ever seen.
Several magicians had tried to come up
with methods to make the trick work, but
none were successful.
Enter Michael Weber, a twenty-three-
year-old magician who is rapidly gaining a
reputation as a creator of brand-new
magical. effects. In one, he borrows a
diamond ring from a woman in his audience,
and the ring mysteriously disappears, He
3S, then produces a sealed Cracker
Jack box The woman opens it, fishes out
the sealed paper envelope, and finds
that the "toy"jnside is her missing diamond
ring. In another trick, Weber takes a
charcoal briquette and squeezes it between
his hands, producing steam and glowing
embers. When he opens his hands, the
charcoal has been transformed into a
In the mid-Seventies, Weber applied his
creative-mind to the legendary boomerang
band trick, and by 1981 he had come up
with a way to do it. He has given us
permission to divulge the method to Omni
readers, and it is revealed here for the
first time anywhere, outside of private
manuscripts sold only to magicians.
FINALLY THE SECRET
First, you must get a rubber band that is
round— not oblong; — when it lies on a
flat surface. This shape will make it roll
better. Position your right hand so that the
thumb and little finger point rigidly in
opposite directions, and stretch the rubber
band between them. It helps to hook the
band under the thumbnail and fingernail.
This step is shown at top left.
Position your hand so that it is vertical to
the floor, and press down on the top of
the band with your right index finger, as
shown. This increases the distance the top
of the band must travel between the
thumb and little finger, which produces
backspin. Release the band by bending in
the right thumb. It will shoot off the little
finger and fly through the air, spinning
backward. When the band lands on the
floor, the backspin will cause it to roll back
to your feet. Shoot the band onto a wide,
flat surface with no obstructions, such as a
carpet or a cement or wooden floor.
Be forewarned that the trick isn't easy; it
takes a lot of practice. You can expect to
fail at it many times before you finally get it
right. The most difficult part is making
sure the band-lands standing straight up
and down— like a wheel or a thrown Hula-
Hoop — and not horizontally. At any rate,
we can verify that the trick does work and
that the boomerang band is a legend —
and nontrick — no more.DO
By Michael Ferris
of NASA,, the
' National Artificial
:'.'' "notta.be . - : '"; -
■ -confused- with those
■he is quick to point out* ■
:■ :;-:;; .- A K-.. '.'■ ;■ ■■ , ■! ■ ! . . 1 '
programmed a basic rialher nation: prob'ern
into' his prototypical Ack'on ! computer.
His request was simply "G.ve me the sum
ten." The computer's quick answer 157; was
unexpected, to say the east Wrth graving
i! ■! ■<■,:. Si if : '■■ ■ ■'!■!■.; ato"'
or the /nae bine's reasoning. The printout
read as follows: rue iecim -oc-q fcuMBtir is
fi^GiGi.io;js. ■ uip--icroaEOKOSv "o irtTEnenr- i
A few moments' later, then,
addendum: iguessi'mean/i ■
'■ Followed shorily thereaffe
Anyone doing conventional research
would .undoubtedly have -consigned the ■
hapless computer to '.he scrap heap but lor
Bo; the Ackron is response ''oprs-
■ ■■! ■ ■ ■, ill. i'. ; : -II . . I I : ' '.'i' .■.■■■ !
■:&r.: diiik/.a Stupidity.
Beran It head of NASA the National
A; Ki;c;a- Stupidity Association ('Not io be
confused with 'hose space people," he
is quick io point out), a idosely knit 'band of
oorrpuier-sehoo- dropouts cu^ei'liy
..occupying an abandoned f.'a'eraly house
S'iyoi : lew ■■■
: i! :■■■: ;,!..■,' i io 0' i 1 ';.'" C ver [.(
developments in arliilciai intehgenco/
Borer axoiains. 'bur relatively iriiu emonasls
en stupidity. Dumbness is. h many ways,
a iar more Difficult quality io synthesize
Lhan.inteli'-gencci.'Hurrian beings' have a .
remarkable capacity 'or fallacious reasoning.
iOQii ,.■ ■' ii ■ ii.ii i' '■!'■ i'l'i :'■ . ! i'
ignorance- traits thai are unique :o them
anc a'ier io
i ■ it ■ ■■■■. QOa ■■ i.C :■'■■■■■ I"' i
program tnatcan aa ho
lull variety ot human aiuofoilies."
Those initial errors ol the Ackron I. involv-
ing the total inability^ et.or follow '
even simple oirocTons. as '.veil as a n'orocc
:eve! of mathematical com pel en he. were
a prorating s:art. Since then.'Boran and hs
staff have made numerous ether significant
breakrhioughs, among sheen:
• A program known as IOMBH fan scronyrr
■for ,: i did mybesi. honest." the computer's
. . i !■■■( ... ■!■ ,■■ ,■■ !fd ia ■ r: No O-niy
has IDMBH thus tar tailed to solve a single
problem or even retrieve one pieco of
-;■■;.: i :■!,: r U . ,0 ■■:'!. .1 ' '!!
Hi/ ■ ii n :. i .!■■■:■
it to .
* Non sequiiur BG-l. a particularly costly
program to design, duo tc the vast amount
I i -.t ial on : d ■:-. ■ ic-TCd n \'
iocnmulatcd data, the
S0<3 'ails to respond to any toques! -n
even a ■remotely organized fashion,. instead
■tanswers with a speculative oafa . . /
response - ■ ■!. ■ :■; ad by siting
through and spitting on' data In what
amounts to a random process. Tor instance,
."when asked to p:ov:de a brief ruabow.non
'esrtnauake zonae '.ha/, might showaoiivi'y
in the next five years, the B04 supplied
save ■ hue ■■■■•;-. inci ling
. .■ ,i . . i
poini!ess-Vai:3na«/:al.iori. program. Agg?e-
pcsl's unique "stupidity factor" is not ba.sec
on its consisient !a.:;:b ; li:y i:\fl rather on 'he
■ obnoxious extent io whid ; the prosgrarn
' will go to defend, lis erroneous conclusions
Atypical exchange with Aggrepost
was one in which one of BOran's senior
assertion that'vhe city oTTsiuanais militarily
:.■.!■:. . i'iCi- ii ;■/
back cown. Aggreposi proceeded to
support ,1s claim wilh a .slew ot fictitious
:"facts" and "evidence.'' including reports oi
Ifi , ■! : '■■■■■,.;■ ■ :."!■ ii ■ ■ ■■ k'I' n. :.,,
ar;fied v^r-h. cheap pottery.
...These developments -are -certainly .3 far
more sophisticated than' i cave up how wa^;--
or vou :rv.L v'E. Despite th.;s impressive
■ .1 .. . i . .
over the whole discipline el artificial stupidly,
a ciLiestion iaced by all ground/breaking
For an answer, NASA'. went l'o its. own
GLIB 5000. one of a
models designed io present icanltipsin
as scpii.sficated a manner as oessible.
i ii ■ , ■■■a , as loiiovvc
■ ASLEiEVil.v.-r.:.:-: ^lOCAI'l/ST.IiAi-^Oi OM-ViS
Oi DiPEC- kiirMECiTTC THh-: PARTES
. i^vOUVEDi'v CONDLJCT^.GIt iTIS.iN MC v WA'i
I ■ ■ il I : ■ ,!■■'■ I !■ ■!
ALASTrNG WOP-DPEACt. ■
■Arthur Boian's answer is raore eown-fc-
earlh: "All of us. at one point or another,
have received a phone ■bill tor one million
doliars or a i.ietime supply of indust.rai-
slrengih otter poison What are these
inevitably at'jlbrite'd.to? Computer error.' o ;
coarse, it's dl-fieuit for humans to really
jrnputeris screwing up.
By designing programs that accurately
simulate ■ urran s(up : gily, we have made t
a simple 'natter fo- scientists Io perceive
at once what their computer is doing wrong
Right new World War lit coule be inggerec
because oi some overload In a silicon
chip controlling a NORAD missileallo.
Wouldn't it be oi some consolation to have
a wore oi expianahori Irom the computet
sorneltiiug like cops. ,-i<c:.v' : i-ais... -/'."
: i. .■■■■,:...::.■■■. ■ ' i ■ ■
tbe tempted to call Boran's
reasoning', well, '.stupid. But In all probao : it^
Ite'd take thai as a cgmpiiment.Oa